Partisan Sniping Dominates Senate Health Debate
The Christian Science Monitor: In the coming days, "senators will have to grind through lots of [amendments], as members of both parties line up to try and shape the final product. ... Senate debate on Tuesday began at around 2:15 pm, and quickly formed along expected lines. Sen. Charles Grassley (R) of Iowa, ranking minority member on the Finance Committee, led off by complaining about the size and possible expense of the effort, layered on top of federal bailouts of banks and auto firms. Sen. Richard Durbin (D) of Illinois, assistant majority leader, responded by calling the bill 'monumental, historic.' He charged that some in the GOP were just trying to protect the profits of private insurers" (Grier, 12/1).
The Associated Press: Floor consideration of the bill "is expected to last for weeks in a test that pits GOP senators determined not to give ground against Senate Democrats intent on delivering on Obama's signature issue. Dozens of amendments are likely to be offered, with the measures seemingly designed as much to court a skeptical public as to reshape Reid's 2,074-page bill" (Alonso-Zaldivar and Werner, 12/2).
CongressDaily reports Reid tried to schedule two votes on amendments, but Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., rebuffed them, saying more debate is needed. "The lack of agreement shows Republicans intend to make good on threats to slow the legislative process at every opportunity, a tactic Reid may cite if he files cloture on the bill while amendments are pending" (Friedman and Edney, 12/2).
Roll Call details Republican strategy. For instance, "instead of offering a conventional amendment, they decided to use an esoteric procedural tactic that would send the bill back to committee with instructions to eliminate the cuts. If successful, the GOP's gambit would force (Reid) to use time-consuming procedures and hold another filibuster-killing vote on whether to restart debate on the bill. ... Democrats charged that Republicans are trying to kill the bill with Senate procedures" (Pierce, 12/2).
Finally, the Los Angeles Times outlines the next steps of Senate health bill votes coming up and the number of votes needed to advance the legislation (12/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.