Reid to Republicans: healthcare reform is now law of the land
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proudly proclaimed on Wednesday that the “historic healthcare reform is now no longer a bill it is the law.”
Someone please tell Republicans.
They are planning a flurry of amendments to try to stall a package of changes being considered by the Senate that Democrats want to make to the legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama.
House Democrats demanded the changes, which among other things would close the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap for the elderly.
Republicans want to change the new law too. They want to repeal it. Some of their amendments would do just that. It is unlikely Senate Democrats will reverse course and undo the hard fought victory for Obama.
But other proposed Republican amendments could force Democrats to take politically unpalatable election-year votes on measures such as one that would strike Medicare spending cuts from the bill.
One amendment would bar insurers from covering erectile dysfunction drugs for rapists and child molesters. It’s unclear how that would be enforced, but who wants to vote for giving Viagra to pedophiles?
Republicans can’t block the package of revisions. It has been brought before the 100-member Senate using special budget rules that limit debate and allow Democrats to pass it with a simple 51-vote majority.
Usually it takes 60 votes to pass controversial bills in the Senate and with 41 members, Republicans could have blocked the bill.
But Republicans can try to change it and any changes would force another debate and vote in the House on the healthcare package.
Even if they fail to change the bill they will have plenty of fodder for the mid-term congressional election campaigns where they said they would make repealing the healthcare overhaul a major issue.
Wait a minute. Senator Charles Grassley who joined his fellow Republicans in voting against the healthcare overhaul just issued a press release touting a tax provision that he succeeded in getting into the new law.
The measure would hold charity hospitals accountable for the tax break they get. So if the new healthcare law is repealed, wouldn’t that go too? It is confusing. But after all this is Washington.
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Photo credit: REUTERS/Jason Reed (President Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid celebrate healthcare reform bill signed into law), Reuters/Larry Downing (House Republicans heading to healthcare vote).