8 a.m. ET: Believe it or not, that was the easy part.
Proponents of health-care reform got their chance to take a brief breath and celebrate Sunday, after a sweeping bill passed the House Saturday night. Now it's on to the next, likely much harder step. So when will the Senate get its work done? In a Rose Garden appearance Sunday, President Obama urged the chamber to "“take up the baton and bring this effort to the finish line.” Harry Reid can't pick up any batons until he gets a score for his bill back from the Congressional Budget Office, likely later this week. "The delay could push Senate consideration of the bill until after Thanksgiving, which could in turn make it very difficult for Congress to meet Mr. Obama’s goal of signing a health bill into law by the end of this year," the New York Times writes.
Since Reid said he would include the public option in his bill, Politico reports, "Senate action on health care has stopped dead, raising the possibility the Senate won’t even begin floor debate until after Thanksgiving. Reid said he’s confident the Senate will pass health reform legislation but left open the chance the final bill could slip until early next year." The Washington Times writes that Senate Republicans "vowed to kill the [House] measure unless it is radically altered," as though the Senate was just going to put the House bill up for a vote. The Associated Press offers this similarly misleading headline: "House health care bill has nowhere to go in Senate."
It is true that Reid's road to 60 votes will likely be even more difficult than Nancy Pelosi's was to 218. Joe Lieberman reiterated Sunday his vow that if the public option is in the Senate bill, "as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote." The Washington Post says that the abortion language in the House bill marks a big obstacle going forward, as "[t]he amendment goes beyond long-standing prohibitions against public funding for abortions, limiting abortion coverage even for women paying for it without government subsidies." The Los Angeles Times adds that the final steps in the House "were laden with warning signs as the issue moves to the Senate. Even though the House is a bastion of liberalism, the healthcare overhaul was a tougher sell than expected and the bill turned out to be more conservative in its price tag, more limited in the scope of its government-run insurance option and tighter in its restrictions on abortion funding than many Democrats had hoped."
On the House side, the Republican campaign to attack Democrats who voted in favor of the bill has already begun. "A handful of members immediately stood out for casting especially tough votes," Politico writes, singling out Tom Perriello, Mary Jo Kilroy, Steve Driehaus and Zack Space. And don't forget Joseph Cao, the lone Republican to support the House measure who was the subject of his second wave of profiles this weekend (the first came after he unexpectedly beat William Jefferson last year.) Politico says Cao is now "a bit of a cult hero on the left — a profile in courage, Democrats say — and television bookers were scrambling to find cell phone numbers for his aides Sunday." Time notes that Cao "was subject to much lobbying from three sides" -- the White House, the Republican leadership and the Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Many of the after-action reports focus on Pelosi's arm-twisting role, particularly on the subject of abortion. When Pelosi told colleagues Friday night that she would allow a vote on the abortion amendment, Politico writes, "it touched off an angry yelling match between [Rosa DeLauro] and another Pelosi confidant, California Rep. George Miller, and tears from some veteran female lawmakers, according to people in the room. The Washington Post observes that Pelosi won a majority by "neutralizing" the public option issue, and "then publicly dared the progressive wing, with its strong commitment to establishing national health insurance, to take down the entire package because one piece was not to their liking."
In the end, liberals had to swallow a bitter pill on both the public option and abortion, but Pelosi calculated correctly that her members would not bring down reform at that late stage. The Los Angeles Times writes that the Speaker demonstrated a "split personality" that enabled her to compromise on those two key issues. Across the aisle, Roll Call looks at the leadership of John Boehner, giving voice to critics who say "that Boehner’s hands-off style makes it hard for the party to present a unified front to fight the majority and in some cases may hurt the party at the ballot box."
Taking a broader view, Jonathan Cohn writes that "if you want appreciate the significance of what happened on Saturday, you really have to take a step back," noting the striking contrast between this effort and the one Democrats mounted during the Clinton administration. The Wall Street Journal editorial page sees the vote as similarly historic in a bad way, criticizing "the biggest expansion of the federal government since the New Deal."
As for Obama, The Washington Post writes that "the health-care vote in the House was a reminder of the power that he still wields to shape the country's future, cajoling change that he promised as a candidate over the objections of a nearly unified GOP and a sharply divided party of his own." In Esquire, Charles Pierce marks the one-year anniversary of Obama's election, lamenting the rise of the fringe on the right and adding: "Obama ran as sane and decent, as though we were electing a mood, and not necessarily a set of policies. Unfortunately, Obama has governed the same way — and misread the mood, which is all there is, really, because being crazy and stupid is all we're really good at politically any more."
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