James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

5 obstacles for ObamaCare

March 10, 2010

How is the healthcare reform endgame shaping up? The always insightful Dan Clifton of Strategas Research boils it down (as outlined by me):

1) The timeline continues to get pushed back which essentially means healthcare will not get done before recess and members will get an earful during the break (support for healthcare is upside down and opposition is twice as intense relative to support). Because the bill is unpopular, members are not pressing to vote on this bill.

2) According to one press report the House wants to skip passing the Senate bill entirely and use a “self executing rule” when the reconciliation bill passes then the Senate bill would also automatically pass. Just the fact that this is being contemplated shows how difficult it is for the House to round up the votes for passage, even before the abortion issue is taken into consideration.

3) And Sen. Conrad threw cold water on this self executing rule insisting that the Senate bill needs to be signed into law before the reconciliation fix could be enacted.

4) Another major hurdle developing is the question about whether the House bill can go right to the Senate floor – the legislation would have to go through committee. And while this delays the process (when time is of the essence) the more important point is that this could kill the bill if the legislation needs to go through the Senate Finance Committee with Blanche Lincoln being the deciding vote. Note she came out against reconciliation again yesterday despite her primary challenge.

5) And then there is the abortion issue. Since reconciliation rules will not permit a ban on abortion funding as needed to get the remaining votes for healthcare, the best strategy for passage was to pressure Senate Republicans not to oppose the provision in the Senate bill. The Catholic Bishops were successful in a similar move in the House last November but the Senate Republicans made it clear yesterday they will oppose the language, even if they agree with the policy. The only path forward in the House is to keep all the supporters of this bill in the yes column, get nearly all the Stupak supporters to defect despite their opposition to the Senate abortion language, and then convert a handful of no votes to yes, despite the fact that 37 of the 38 Dems that voted no are from Republican districts. And all this with a short timeline.

Comments

In other words, passage is rather unlikely. Perhaps Mr. Obama will then get the message about lost causes.

Posted by gotthardbahn | Report as abusive
 

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