Senate Faces Another Working Weekend
CongressDaily: "Senators continued to quibble over procedure Thursday, complicating Majority Leader [Harry] Reid's plans to file cloture on three pieces of his healthcare bill at once, a procedural step he hopes will allow passage before Christmas, though that appears increasingly unlikely." Reid's plan, which involves filing for cloture on the underlying Democratic-backed health bill, a manager's amendment and a substitute amendment, "will not allow cloture time on the three to run concurrently but would minimize the total time used because one cloture motion would be taken up with no wasted time immediately after the vote on the prior one. It sets up, in effect, a 90-hour cloture clock." But Congress Daily reports that the odds for a pre-Christmas passage of the health bill "appear to be diminishing primarily because of reservations among senators whose votes Democrats need." (Friedman and Edney, 12/11).
Politico: The GOP is urging Republicans to "delay, stall, slow down, and ultimately stop this bill," Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele wrote to members in a memo Thursday. "Steele encouraged the party leaders to 'spend every bit of capital and energy you have to stop this health care reform' and said Democrats are absolutely correct in charging (the) GOP of doing everything it can to slow down the bill" (Barr, 12/10).
Additionally, Roll Call reports that "Reid blamed Republican procedural delays for the imperative to keep the Senate in session this weekend, saying they have not only been throwing up roadblocks on the health care bill but have also slowed down the appropriations process throughout the year" (Pierce and Brady, 12/10).
The Hill: "A final effort to avoid a weekend of votes fell apart Thursday evening when Senate Democratic and Republican leaders failed to reach agreement to consider an omnibus spending bill on Friday. ... the Senate will vote on the motion to end debate on Saturday and likely vote to pass the spending legislation on Sunday." Additionally, Reid and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) failed "to reach agreement on a proposal to vote on four healthcare-related amendments." Amendments include allowing the importation of drugs from foreign countries and one that seeks to strip out all taxes on individuals who make less than $200,000 a year and families who make $250,000 a year. In addition to feeling they had not been given enough time to review one of the amendments, "Republicans objected for the additional reason that Reid requested votes on three Democratic amendments and one GOP measure, an uneven ratio" (Bolton, 12/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.