House Democrats Renew Threats To Bypass Energy Committee On Reform
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman has threatened to bypass his own committee and force a floor vote on health reform over an impasse and break in the Democratic ranks, The Associated Press reports.
"Waxman, D-Calif., said negotiations with fiscally conservative Democrats on his panel cannot continue indefinitely. But a floor vote would put fellow Democrats in an exposed position, having to cast a vote on a $544-billion upper-income tax increase that the Senate is unlikely to embrace to help pay for covering the millions of uninsured Americans."
Waxman said he would not allow the fiscally conservative Blue Dogs to give control to Republicans. "'We're going to have to look at perhaps bypassing the (Energy and Commerce) committee because we've got to get moving on this legislation,' Waxman said. 'I hope we don't come to that conclusion'" (Werner, 7/24).
The Hill: "Waxman is hoping the inclusion of a study on Medicare reimbursement rates in the healthcare overhaul will be enough to placate the centrist Democrats, who say the government program short-changes hospitals and physicians in their rural districts. The reimbursement rates are important to the healthcare bill, because the government-run 'public option' would be based on Medicare. The study would produce recommendations that Congress could vote up or down, in a manner comparable to the military base-closure process" (Swanson and Soraghan, 7/24).
Others are unsure bypassing the committee is the wisest course of action, Politico reports. Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said, "I would love to us follow the regular order in doing this" (O'Connor, 7/24).