Pelosi ‘Confident’ On Health Overhaul Vote Through Reconciliation Process
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is "confident" she will be able to get the votes needed to pass health care reform, "even if it threatens the political careers of some members of her party," The New York Times reports. Pelosi said she was still working on changes to the legislation to make it more palatable to her members. "The speaker said she would have another version, incorporating compromises between the House and the Senate, 'in a matter of days.' When the new package is ready, Ms. Pelosi said, she will sell it to the public" (Pear, 2/28).
The Wall Street Journal: "Monday kicks off a critical week for Democrats to push ahead with their overhaul. President Barack Obama is expected to announce his preferred way forward for the bill. The White House has already laid the groundwork for Congress to complete the legislation using a process known as budget reconciliation that requires a simple majority in the Senate." The process is likely to start in the House, but "Republicans warned Sunday that Democrats were trying to force an unpopular measure that would hurt (Democrats) in the midterm elections." House Minority Whip Eric Cantor said that if Democrats use reconciliation, they will lose their majority in Congress this year (Davis, 3/1).
The Washington Post: "White House adviser Nancy-Ann DeParle said on Sunday she thinks Democrats will secure enough ayes on the measure and signaled that the administration could be moving toward trying to pass it along party lines. ... Increasingly, the White House appears to favor having the House pass a version of the measure that cleared the Senate with 60 votes in December. The Senate would then pass changes to the bill to satisfy some demands of House Democrats" (Kornblut, 3/1).
But some Democrats are wary of using this legislative tool, Roll Call reports. "Mapping out the strategy, Pelosi said Democrats will be focused on first 'freezing the design on the substance' of a final health care plan and then looking to Senators to see if they 'accommodate the changes that the president has put forth' in his plan. ... Liberals continue to insist on a government role in the final bill, whether it be a national exchange, an extended Medicare program or a public insurance option - none of which is in the Senate bill." The leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are among those questioning whether there are enough Democratic votes to pass a bill (Bendery, 3/1).
The Hill: "House Democrats are reluctant to take up the Senate bill, alone or in conjunction with the reconciliation package, out of fear the upper chamber will once again leave them hanging" as they did with previous tries at health reform, which leaves them exposed politically (Young, 3/1).
Politico: Democrats also are tasked with blending parts of Obama's newest health care reform proposal into the overhaul. "Congressional leaders, however, are looking to incorporate as many elements as possible from Obama's 11-page health care proposal into the reconciliation bill, making it much larger than moderate Democrats have said they would feel comfortable supporting" (Budoff Brown, 2/28).
Bloomberg/BusinessWeek: "'It looks like we're trying to cram something through,' said Representative Baron Hill, an Indiana Democrat who voted for the original House bill. Hill said he might not back a measure if it goes through reconciliation, which is intended for budget matters. A 'sizeable number' of the 54 fiscally conservative Democrats who call themselves Blue Dogs are also concerned, said South Dakota Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin" (Jensen and Litvan, 2/1).