Obamacare

Health Care Reform's Procedural Gauntlet

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Git 'R Done!

Nancy Pelosi and the White House's head health care honcho, Nancy-Ann DeParle, are both swearing up down, cross their hearts and hope to die, that, after they release a finalized health care proposal later this week, they'll finally have the votes to git 'r done. I didn't watch the Sunday shows on which they made their respective vows, so I can't say for sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if they both made their promises with their fingers crossed behind their backs. 

Both Pelosi and the administration have a vested interest in at least seeming to be working towards passage, but any realistic analysis of the political and procedural obstacles suggests that it's all but impossible—and that's assuming that Pelosi can actually conjure up the votes in the first place. Right now, she doesn't have them, and, as an article in the New York Times over the weekend made clear, the holdouts are primarily abortion opponents and fiscal moderates who are deeply conflicted about the bill. 

But even if Pelosi somehow put together a compromise measure that she could finagle enough support for, the rest of the passage process is still fairly daunting. In a long and detailed post, Keith Hennessey does the best job I've seen of laying out just how arduous the road to passage is likely to be. 

As he explains, one of the major complications Democrats will have to resolve is the sequencing of the votes. Passing the bill will require votes in both chambers of Congress, but neither chamber wants to go first because neither chamber wants to take the risk that the other side will flake; with rare exceptions, the only thing worse than taking a politically difficult vote is taking a politically difficult vote and ending up with nothing to show for it. Hennessey is convinced that, in the end, the House will have to first: The Senate cannot pass an amending bill through reconciliation if the House hasn't actually passed a bill to be amended. That sounds right to me, but it's tough to say for sure; no matter what, the combination of procedure, policy, and inter-chamber trust issues won't be easy to navigate.

Git 'R Done!

Even if Democrats do manage to get to the point of using reconciliation in the Senate, Republicans will do their best to turn it into a procedural torture session that's as long and painful as possible. In particular, Sen. DeMint has already threatened to exploit what The Hill calls a "loophole"—a rule allowing Senators to offer an infinite number of amendments—that could draw out the proceedings for a very, very long time. The Hill's article says that Democrats might respond by seeking "a ruling by the parliamentarian that Republicans are simply filing amendments to stall the process." But when I asked former Senate parliamentarian Robert Dove about this possibility on a conference call last week, he seemed skeptical that such a request would work (though he didn't flatly rule it out). 

In other words, the procedural barriers are many—and in order to even begin the process of overcoming them, Nancy Pelosi will first have to come up with enough votes in the House. Until that happens, this bill isn't going anywhere, no matter how many times Pelosi and co. pinky swear it's ready to go. 

NEXT: And the Lights All Went Out In Taxachusetts

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  1. This infinite loophole, tell me more. Could one Senator stop all legislation this way?

    1. I agree with the author in all his statements, that he has made. Health for all its citizens is a great thing that has been done by the US administration. Nancy Pelosi has done some great work behind the approval of the democrats. Who ever is behind the bill has done a good job which enables Elderly alert to the old, and health to all other people of the society.

  2. Challenge to Ken Schultz and Shriek:

    Re: Ken Schultz,

    Somehow I knew you would weasel out. Here are the links:

    http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/123737.html

    http://www.economicpolicyjourn…..-paul.html

    1. Is the challenge to get you to say fuck you? I think I won that one.:-)

  3. Thank Jeebus for “inefficient” government.

  4. The Republicans don’t need many votes in the house to kill it. Why not just make a deal with say five Dems from really vulnerable districts not to challenge them in 2010 in return for a no vote? The killing of Obamacare would be more than worth the loss of the seats for a couple of years.

    1. Incumbent Republicans from other parts of the country can’t make binding promises that prevent potential Republican challengers who actually live in the district from filing papers and running.

      That deal wouldn’t be worth the paper it was printed on.

      1. The Party could make a deal. Without the Party, you might as well be financing yourself.

  5. The excuses for not bringing a bill to the table are as phony as Larry the cable guy’s country bumpkin accent.

  6. Caption Contest!

    “Oh, you WILL vote for this bill, Congresstard, or ‘government healthcare’ will mean a latex glove on THIS hand, and THIS finger, going up YOUR ass!!”

    1. That may be the scariest picture I’ve seen of our good Speaker. Ever.

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    2. I will get you and your little dog to.

    3. “I’m giving you exactly three seconds to vote for this bill. One… “

      1. that is a feature and not a bug for most of these posters;-)

      2. Warren,,that is a feature and not a bug for most of these posters;-)

    4. “Oh, you WILL vote for this bill, Congresstard, or ‘government healthcare’ will mean a latex glove on THIS hand, and THIS finger FIST, going elbow deep up YOUR ass!!”

      FIFY

    5. “I’m gonna hold my breath until we have single payer! *Huppff*”

      1. Both of them have made a promise, which I am sure is hard to keep and I really do not know whether they have crossed their fingers behind the back so as to make the promise a false one. But I am very positive and sure that whether or not they have made their promises, they are now monitored by several citizens as well as other political parties and anything which compromises this promise will certainly get them faltered!Expatriate Health Insurance

    6. All hail the Hypno-Nancy…

      1. Both of them have made a promise, which I am sure is hard to keep and I really do not know whether they have crossed their fingers behind the back so as to make the promise a false one. But I am very positive and sure that whether or not they have made their promises, they are now monitored by several citizens as well as other political parties and anything which compromises this promise will certainly get them faltered!Life alert

  7. … and then DeMint went like this!

    … Its a loser baby, so why don’t we kill it.

    1. Pelosi is saving all her food stamps and burning down the trailer park.

  8. Reading the Hennessey post gave me a warm happy feeling. God bless gridlock.

    1. What’s the Hennessey post?

  9. Lets not forget the biggest procedural barrier of all: the Constitution.

    Which says that all bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.

    The Senate bill has tons of revenue-raising provisions (taxes, fines, you name it), but did not originate in the House. How is it not prima facie unconstitutional?

    1. Are you serious?

    2. Interstate Commerce clause.

    3. Interstate Commerce clause.

    4. The Senate bill has tons of revenue-raising provisions (taxes, fines, you name it), but did not originate in the House. How is it not prima facie unconstitutional?

      Incorrect. The Senate bill originated in the House as a money bill.

    5. The Senate bill has tons of revenue-raising provisions (taxes, fines, you name it), but did not originate in the House. How is it not prima facie unconstitutional?

      You keep saying this, and I keep hitting the thread too late for you to see my response.

      The Senate bill originated in the House as an unrelated money bill. The Senate health care bill was offered as an amendment in substitute of the entire bill by Majority Leader Reid.

      This use of a shell bill is done entirely to get around the Constitutional provision.

      It’s a pretty absurd bullshit runaround, but it’s not prima facie unConstitutional for this reason.

  10. The hard core leftists in the Dem party seem to be taking the view that it’s worth for them to lose power in the next election cycle if they can initiate a massive new entitlement program and expansion of government power. This is because they think that once it is enacted, it instantly becomes a sacred cow and cannot be undone later.

    That political calculation has to fail at some point and now is as good a time as any. Past expansions of the welfare state have not been enacted over the will of such a large percentage of the population as this one would be.

    If the Dems persist in ramming this through, then the centerpiece of the Republicans for November (and beyond) should be pledging to repeal every bit of it if the public will give them sufficient majorities in Congress to do it.

    1. I made the exact same point on a previous thread. Medicare and Medicaide were popular. Also they were benefit programs. The control and regulation didn’t come until later. Obamacare is going to do nothing but raise people’s insurance rates. And worse than that, because it was passed without any minority support, the Democrats are now going to own the health care system. That means health care will no longer be a winning issue for them. It will instead be a club whereby the Republicans can hold them responsible for every problem in health care.

    2. Could you guys try not using the phrase “ramming it through” every time you discuss healthcare, which might indicate that you are capable of thinking for yourself rather than just repeating GOP talking points as distributed by FOX news or talk radio?

      Why do conservatives make everything they don’t like sound like forced sodomy? Is it because you all have the critical thinking skills of primary school students?

      It’s not ramming it through, it’s called voting on legislation.

      1. “Why do conservatives make everything they don’t like sound like forced sodomy?”

        Because getting fucked out of your money and freedom generally feels a lot like forced sodomy.

        1. So I take it you won’t be feeling this sensation, having been given a tax cut by Obama, and realizing that your health coverage situation won’t change under this bill.

          1. Tax credit != tax cut

          2. Shut The Fuck Up, Shit Facktory!

            1. Gobbler, Gobbler, Gobbler — try to be nice to our mentally challenged friends.

          3. Re: Tony,

            So I take it you won’t be feeling this sensation, having been given a tax cut by Obama, and realizing that your health coverage situation won’t change under this bill.

            Tax credits are not tax “cuts.”

            1. Jesus you won’t give an inch on Obama. He could pass the Lipertopia Implementation Act and you’d bitch about how many pages it is.

              1. And if he said he saw Bigfoot, you’d believe him.

                But that doesn’t change the fact that tax credits aren’t tax cuts.

              2. Mo’ Pages, Mo’ problems.

      2. We are all infinitely smarter than you will ever live to be, Tony.

        We chose not to be liberals.

      3. Re: Tony,

        It’s not ramming it through, it’s called voting on legislation.

        Taking into account tw things, one, that at least 58% of people do not want what’s on the current bill and, two, the very same Nancy Pelosi (Obama’s pet bitch) said that the bill will be passed whatever the cost, there is at least some evidence to suggest that the bill will be RAMMED THROUGH – hence the comment.

        And, you are committing a logical fallacy called “Poisoning of the Well”, by suggesting that just because some people at Fox have used the same phrase to describe the political machinations of Congress, ipso facto whoever else uses it is incapable of independent thinking.

        1. OM,

          Congress isn’t required to do the will of the majority. That’s one reason why we have a Congress.

          If you’d put down the logic 101 textbook for a minute you’d see that my point is that because “ramming it through/jamming it down our throats” is quite clearly official GOP language, which is not meant to describe reality but to scare stupid people, using this language is pretty good evidence of you being a dumbass incapable of independent thought on this issue.

          1. any other words we should know are off limits as GOP bait? I know Noam Chomsky says we can’t ever mean what we say without meaning what you think we say, so help us understand what is and isn;t acceptable speech, mkay?

          2. What is quite clear is that you are an idiot.

          3. Thank you for clarifying these prominent exceptions to the First Amendment free speech guarantees, Tony.

            And I’m guessing some Republicans use terms reminiscent of gay sex to describe deeply unpopular legislation because gay sex is deeply unpopular among most Republicans (L. Craig excepted).

            Not saying I agree with using homoerotic slurs, any more than I agree with liberals using Nazi / fascists slurs, just pointing out where the language seems to be originating.

  11. The altext should have been

    “Tsst!!”

  12. Damn.

    Nancy’s photo looks like something from the twisted imagination of Industrial Light and Magic.

  13. In classic lefty fashion, the promoters of Obamacare are trying to buy their political goals with other people’s careers.

    Where this falls apart is that no single representative is going to conclude that its worth his very own personal seat in the House to pass Obamacare.

    1. “representative” is a loose term these days.

      1. Meh. Substantively I agree, at least in the Senate. But in the House, Madam Pelosi represents the people of San Francisco. And they think this is a good idea. Well, “think” might be a strong word for the people of San Francisco.

        When House districts are dicked with until it’s impossible for the other party to oust an idiot.

        See Dennis Kucinich, Charlie Rangel, Michelle Bachmann.

        1. If the Dems lose the House, Pelosi loses her speakership (and probably doesn’t get minority leader either). So she is gambling with her own position (though not her seat).

    2. Appeals to altruism by people other than the person making the appeal are oftentimes not all that popular an idea.

  14. You know, the Founders designed this system, as frustrating [as] it is, to make sure that there’s a broad consensus before the country moves forward. . . . And what we have now is a president who . . . [h]asn’t gotten his way. And that is now prompting, you know, a change in the Senate rules that really I think would change the character of the Senate forever. . . . And what I worry about would be you essentially have still two chambers ? the House and the Senate ? but you have simply majoritarian absolute power on either side, and that’s just not what the founders intended.

    — Sen. Barack Obama, Ill., remarks at the National Press Club, 4/26/05.

    1. I know this is supposed to be pointing out Obama’s hypocrisy, but it’s not at all clear the Founders intended for bills to require a 3/5 majority to pass in the Senate. The filibuster was a later innovation.

      1. So you’re saying Obama is both a hypocrite AND wrong about what the Founders intended in the Constitution?

        Quelle surprise.

  15. Unfortunately, the Parliamentarian has no independent power — he is merely an advisor to Choo-Choo Joe. Biden can overrule him on any question, and indeed Reid can replace him on a whim.

    So if we accept the proposition that the Dem leadership is willing to just rule in favor of reconciliation just because they can, there’s not much that can stop them (besides losing 10 Dem votes in the Senate, of course).

    Unfortunately, that assumption is looking more and more plausible.

    1. Breaking the rules in any major way will allow the Republicans to do the same when they control Congress. . .later this year. The House for sure, anyway.

      1. I don’t see them taking back the Senate this year. They have to beat incumbents in deep blue states to do that.

      2. They would have to hold all their own seats (not a bad bet) and win 10 currently Dem seats. Assuming they win in ND, DE, IN, AR, IL, NV, PA, CO, which are either red states or tossups, they still have to win 2 of CA, CT, NY-Gillebrand, WA, WI to get 51 votes. (No way they win NY-Schumer, HI, MD, OR, VT)

        1. Yeah, the only way Inouye in HI loses his seat is by dying — and then it will likely still go to a different Democrat.

  16. So you’re saying Obama is both a hypocrite AND wrong about what the Founders intended in the Constitution?

  17. The excuses for not bringing a bill to the table are as phony as Larry the cable guy’s country bumpkin accent bwin

  18. Nancy’s photo looks like something from the twisted imagination of Industrial Light and Magic bwin

  19. Reading the Hennessey post gave me a warm happy feeling. God bless gridlock pariloto

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  23. The health problem is a global one, we are to many and we live to long.
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  24. I work with seniors who need medical alert systems but can’t afford them. Unfortunately none of these reforms are geared towards immediately helping the elderly. I wish congress would work together to come up with real legislation that can help now.

  25. I fear that unless Obama gets elected again, the elderly in this country will continue to struggle and may get to a point where they can’t even afford medical alert systems

  26. I am very glad to say we are close to completing the appointments to our new national team. That we have attracted people of such high calibre should give everyone confidence that Public Health England is open for business. finish my assignment uk | Speech help uk

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