House Staffers Mull Strategies To Speed Health Bill PassageCongressDaily: "Congressional Democrats are laying groundwork that would allow the House to pass the Senate's healthcare overhaul bill without a conference, a move that would avoid additional Senate filibusters and possibly send a bill to President Obama before the end of the year." After a meeting of top Democratic staffers, one aide said "[f]rom a strategic standpoint, the ideal situation is that we do something like [skip the conference]... We'd go into the new year with a major accomplishment. The decks would be cleared, and we can move on to other issues." But four policy differences -- abortion, immigration, the public option,and the Senate's excise tax on expensive insurance plans -- could determine whether the House could muster the votes necessary to pass the Senate bill without additional negotiations (Hunt, 12/8).
Meanwhile, Roll Call reports on how the congressional schedule is shaping up for the new year. "The Senate may be voting until Christmas on the $848 billion health care reform bill, but members won't have to return to until Jan. 19 to begin work in the new year." The official 2010 calendar notes that the Senate will meet Jan. 5 for a pro forma session. "The House is scheduled to return one week earlier than the Senate, with votes expected on Jan. 12" (Brady, 12/8). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.