Kennedy’s death and the future of healthcare reform

August 26, 2009

My friend Washington analyst Pete Davis give his always-insightful two cents:

1) Senator Kennedy’s death is quite a blow to hopes for health care reform. No only could Kennedy rally the troops for the tough parliamentary battles ahead, his seat will sit vacant until late January.  Under Massachusetts law, a special election must be held within 145 to 160 days to fill the vacancy and there will be no interim appointment in the meantime.  That robs Senate Democrats of a vote until then, leaving them one short of the 60 they need to overcome a filibuster.

2) Reconciliation may be pursued, but it’s a tortuous path. President Obama and Senate Democratic leaders have talked about using reconciliation to pursue a  Democrats only health reform.  That would allow Senate passage by a majority vote, but it comes with a lot of downside risk.  First, it guarantees no Republican would support it, and there are some Democrats who oppose using reconciliation too.  So that could be a close vote as well.  Second, making health reform work under reconciliation is not easy.  The Senate Parliamentarian would work day and night to decide what provisions are “extraneous,” meaning they don’t affect the budget and must be jettisoned.

3) I’ve been surprised in recent discussions with Senate Democratic staff at how much they think they can get past the Parliamentarian, like a Medicare Advisory Council, but a lot of insurance reforms etc. would have to pass in a separate bill.  If you end up with one bill and not the other, you’ve got a mess.  Finally, using reconciliation in such a partisan manner would impair its use in the future to reduce the deficit.  That has always been its intended purpose, and we will surely need it.


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Kennedy was not as powerful as people thought he was. They were merely afraid of his name. I’m sure our forefathers are completely disgusted that we allowed someone like this to be in the government for almost 50 years. They intended for us to go to Washington, serve a term or two, then return to our homes and carry on personal business. What a complete waste of taxpayers money. Maybe now we can get on with the business of the people.

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

Teddy Kennedy was a noxious drunk, a sexual deviant and an unrepentant murderer posing as a U.S. Senator. The world became a better place the moment he assumed room temperature.

For the media to attempt to gloss over his despicable character and promote Kennedy as a hero is akin to posthumously promoting Michael Jackson as a champion for the defense of little boys’ virginity.

The ONLY thing worse than trying to lionize Teddy Kennedy is the puerile and vulgar attempt to shame the Republican legislators into going along with the railroading of socialized medicine down the throats of Thinking Americans all in the name of Honoring this Fable.

Posted by Bruce W. | Report as abusive