Saturday Night Vote Set On House Health Reform Bill
House Democratic leaders are preparing a rare Saturday night vote on sweeping health care reform.
The Washington Post reports: "Democratic whips worked their rank and file, while House leaders tried to secure a momentum-building endorsement from the AARP, the nation's largest association of people over 50. President Obama, meanwhile, laid plans to visit Capitol Hill on Thursday or Friday to address House Democrats in a final push for his signature domestic initiative. ... House Republicans are united in opposition to the majority's health bill, so to pass the measure, Democrats will need at least 218 votes from their 258-member caucus." During the amendment process, Republicans are expected to introduce their own bill, which is is unlikely to get much traction. "Further amendments are likely Friday, when the House Rules Committee will meet to determine the parameters of the floor debate" (Montgomery, 11/5).
The Associated Press: "Leaders stopped short Wednesday of declaring they had the 218 votes needed to pass the bill, and they were still negotiating language on abortion and immigration. But scheduling the vote meant those issues would have to be resolved and undecided lawmakers would have to declare themselves" (Werner and Alonso-Zaldivar, 11/5).
Meanwhile, The Hill reports that the GOP also is counting votes toward a tally of none. "Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), who serves as deputy GOP whip, told The Hill that the number of Republicans supporting the sweeping legislation will be 'very, very close to zero'" (Hooper, 11/4).
CQ HealthBeat: "House Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise M. Slaughter said Wednesday that the rule for considering sweeping health care legislation will encompass anti-abortion language put forward by Rep. Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind. The Ellsworth language would become part of the bill (HR 3962) if the House adopts the rule for floor consideration, Slaughter said. The proposal would explicitly prohibit federal funding for abortions and guarantee patients access to 'pro life' insurance plans that would not cover the procedure" (Epstein, 11/4).
Roll Call: Slaughter added "that final votes (on the entire bill) could begin around 6 p.m. but may not necessarily be finished by then. She also said there would be five hours of debate on the measure" (Dennis, 11/4).
The Wall Street Journal: "Democrats tacked new provisions onto the legislation late Tuesday. ... One of the additions would raise $24 billion for the bill by eliminating a biofuels tax break for pulp and paper companies. Another would place tighter restrictions on insurance companies to prevent them from increasing consumers' premiums without cause" (Adamy and Vaughan, 11/5).
Bloomberg: "The measure, which would require all Americans to get insurance, set up new online purchasing exchanges and provide subsidies to help people buy insurance, represents the biggest changes to U.S. health care since the 1965 creation of the Medicare system for the elderly" (Rowley, 11/5).
The Hill: "On Wednesday, lawmakers started clarifying their positions. Two committee chairmen - Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) and Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) - announced they will oppose the bill, and two freshmen who voted against the bill in committee switched to support it" (Soraghan and Hooper, 11/4).
Politico: "...history also sits on the shoulders of Democrats these days, and having failed to act on health care in 1994 - and then having lost power - they feel an almost inexorable push to seize this moment before it slips away" (Rogers, 11/5).
The Hill reports in a separate story that the Saturday vote will present a defining moment for Blue Dog Democrats, the fiscally conservative moderates. "The number of Blue Dogs leaning toward or committed to 'no' votes could be in the 30s, according to members, although Blue Dog leaders stress that they've done no whip count. But perhaps just as many have strong preferences for the healthcare bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee" (Allen, 11/4).
Kaiser Health News reports on potential delays of a final bill: "If there isn't a bill on Obama's desk by Christmas, Obama supporters fear lawmakers could face a repeat of the brutal August town hall meetings where angry constituents railed against a government-run 'public plan' and other elements of proposed bills. And under that scenario, lawmakers could return to Washington in January considerably less enthusiastic about health care legislation" (Carey and Pianin, 11/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.