Are Republicans admitting defeat before the timorous Democrats?
Republicans who urged anti-healthcare supporters to help them “kill the bill” only days ago suddenly seem to be shouting “repeal the bill,” as if Democrats are truly destined for victory. Yet their Democratic opponents in the House seem too scared to say ‘yea’ without more than a little hand-holding.
Dozens of Republican lawmakers and candidates are reported to have signed a pledge to repeal President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan, should the GOP take control of either the House or Senate in November. The Washington Post says 37 House and Senate members and 163 congressional candidates have already signed the pledge.
That’s an agreement to overturn legislation that hasn’t even seen sunlight. And it comes less than two days after fiscal conservative activists kicked off an 11th hour bid to drown the Democratic cause in a torrent of phone calls, e-mails and congressional office visits.
The Republican action may seem very confident. But it does show just how big a role the healthcare reform issue is likely to play in the November elections, when voters cast ballots for all 435 House seats and one-third of the 100 Senate seats.
Democrats, equally aware of the consequences, are already planning to use an arcane parliamentary procedure in the House that would allow themselves to pass Obama’s reforms without directly voting for them.
And as the political fireworks rage behind closed doors, they’re now also trying to calm the timorous breasts of some wavering House members by getting their big brothers and sisters in the Senate to hold their hands.
Democrats in the House need to be reassured that if they muster the courage to do right by Obama, the fickle Senate won’t panic and abandon ship. So Senate Democrats are being asked to sign a letter expressing general support for pushing healthcare reform to final passage. Roll Call says the letter was even co-written by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s staff.
As if to prove that shyness isn’t solely a House quality, some Senate Democrats who boldly vow to vote ‘yea’ on legislation don’t want to say so in writing.
Photo credits: Reuters/Brian Snyder (A youngster’s dose of healthcare); Reuters/Hyungwon Kang (Fireworks and the U.S. Capitol)
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