“We’re leaving together/But still it’s farewell/And maybe we’ll come back/To earth, who can tell?/I guess there is no one to blame/We’re leaving ground/Will things ever be the same again?/It’s the Final Countdown”
After nearly a year of lively debate, the Health Care Reform bill will finally come up for a final vote in the House of Representatives. The bill still must pass the Senate, which shouldn’t be an issue if they use reconciliation, so this vote really represents the final hurdle for the Democrats to pass the unpopular bill. Sort of. So what’s next? First off, the vote must happen tonight. By all accounts, the Democrats should have the 216 votes necessary to pass the bill in the House. According to reports, 8 original “No” votes have flipped to “Yes”. The most popular of these switches is Rep. Dennis Kucinich who voted “No” out of his liberal principles that the vote didn’t go far enough. This should afford the Democrats a flip of 10 original “Yes” votes to “No”. In order to ensure this doesn’t happen, it appears the President is willing to concede to the Pro-Life Democrats and sign an executive order re-confirming that no tax dollars will go towards abortion. Of course, an executive order is not law, more like a promise – that can be broken at any time. But this may be enough to appease the nay voters.
Assuming the Senate bill passes the House tonight, they will then vote on an ammended bil. The next step will be passing the ammended bill through reconciliation in the Senate. Although this vote should not be in jeopardy, there is still much of the debate to be had. First off, Republicans can offer amendments to the bill to delay the final vote which they will surely do. Likely, none of them will pass – however, the Republicans will use this opportunity to highlight the negative aspects of the bill and force Democrats to vote on them. I expect the Democrats will nightly accuse the Republicans of stalling progress, but really what they want to do is expedite the final vote so to limit their exposure to voting on these negative aspects.
Also, the Republicans will use the Reconciliation process to bring several budgetary gimmicks to light and accuse that the bill essentially must be re-written. For instance, the additional tax increases on Cadillac plans could be deemed unconstitutional, which would mean they would need to find a new way to pay for the new entitlement. Same with the doctor’s fix which was promised to the tune of $200B that was not in the CBO rating to cover lost revenues to doctors for Medicare. If anything changes the bill will go back to the House for a re-vote. Senate Dems have the votes to pass through reconciliation, but they need to hold strong against any changes.
Later this week, I will cover what the passage of this bill will mean to the American Public in the immediate future, and what to expect long-term. If we get there. It will be interesting to see how expenses will be explained once the double counting and budgetary tricks are more heavily exposed and actually reported. No matter how long it takes, a health care will be passed soon.