GOP Putting Strategies In Place To Thwart Dems On ReformPolitico: "When Mitch McConnell speaks these days, he expects House Blue Dogs to be listening." The Senate minority leader is "very much part of a newly launched Republican shadow war to block health care reform by playing on the nerves of wavering Democrats across the Capitol" with "his real goal of sowing doubts about the fiscal soundness of President Barack Obama's agenda - and with it health care reform. It's a change in Republican tactics that reflects the changed circumstances of the health care debate." Passage of the giant bill has become a real test of competence for Democrats and the White House after they invested so much of the past year in the effort. Accordingly, Republicans prefer to see it collapse within the majority party - and without their fingerprints on the body." Political notes that the votes of Blue Dog Democrats "are pivotal" (Rogers, 3/10).
The Boston Globe: "Scott Brown railed yesterday against President Obama and congressional Democrats for continuing their quest to pass a comprehensive health care bill, saying the majority party in Washington has failed to heed the lessons of his own surprise victory in January." The Massachusetts Republican spoke about health care at a conference of the National Association of Health Underwriters and said: "'Right now the health care plan they're pushing, in particular, and the way they're trying to do it, is wrong' ... Echoing recent comments from GOP leaders, Brown said reconciliation is unacceptable" (Viser, 3/10).
Politico, in a separate story: "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wants to revive the bipartisan Gang of 14 - this time for health care reform, not judicial nominees. But most of his moderate Democratic colleagues aren't rushing to RSVP. Graham said Tuesday that a coalition of Republican and Democratic senators could rescue the Senate from an institutional disaster brought on by the use of the parliamentary maneuver known as reconciliation to finish the health care bill. ... But some of the moderates who would usually be the first to join such a push scoffed at the idea." Their resistance may be "a sign of how centrist Democrats, who were among the most skeptical of reconciliation after their party's Massachusetts Senate defeat, have come largely to accept that the use of the fast-track rules is a legitimate tool to enact fixes to the Senate health care bill" (Budoff Brown and Frates, 3/10).
Roll Call: "Determined to block President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, Senate Republican leaders signaled Tuesday that they plan to object to any abortion language included in a proposed reconciliation package - even if they agree with the provision on policy grounds. ... Senate Republicans and even some reconciliation experts argue the procedure's narrow guidelines don't allow for policies like abortion to be addressed." The GOP leaders said on Tuesday that they planned to "raise a budget point of order, a procedural move objecting to the reconciliation process that requires 60 votes to defeat" regarding any abortion provisions in the reconciliation bill (Drucker, 3/9). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.