On The Sunday News Shows, GOP And Democratic Leaders Parse Health Reform Politics, Senate Support
After yesterday, when the House of Representatives cleared its version of sweeping health overhaul legislation, the Sunday talk shows were full of GOP and Democratic leaders talking about the impact of that vote as well as what might happen in the Senate.
Reuters: "After a landmark win in the U.S. House of Representatives, President Barack Obama's push for healthcare reform faces a difficult path in the Senate amid divisions in his own Democratic Party on how to proceed." In the Senate, there's no margin for error. Democrats control 60 votes, but some either oppose or are hesitant about Majority Leader Harry Reid's plan to include a public insurance option in the version of legislation he sends to the Senate floor. "Senator Joe Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, renewed his promise on Sunday to help Republicans block a final vote" if the bill contains the public plan supported by Senate liberals. "'If the public option plan is in there, as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote,' Lieberman said on Fox News Sunday."
The newly passed House version of sweeping health reform legislation triggered criticism from the right. "'The House bill is dead on arrival in the Senate,' Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on CBS's Face the Nation, calling it 'a bill written by liberals for liberals.'" The Reuters' report notes that yesterday's House vote was a key win for President Obama, "who staked much of his political capital on the healthcare battle." A loss would have could have ended the effort, limited his ability to advance the rest of his agenda and left Democrats vulnerable in next year's congressional elections. But "Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2008 and a leader of conservative grass-roots opposition to Obama's agenda, promised retribution in those elections." She wrote on her Facebook page that the next moves are in the Senate. "Our legislators can listen now, or they can hear us in 2010. It's their choice," she wrote. "We will make our voices heard" (Whitesides, 11/8).
CBS News: During his appearance on Face the Nation, Graham -- terming the House bill a "non-starter in the Senate" -- also said "that if it were to come down to it, he would join his independent colleague Senator Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., in filibustering a bill including the so-called public option should it come to the Senate floor. ... I just think the construct out of the House and what exists in the Senate is not going to pass, and I hope and pray it doesn't because it would be a disaster for the economy and health care." Graham believed a public option would "destroy" private health care, saying that insurance companies could not compete against the lower premiums of a government-backed plan. "It will be a death blow to private choice," he said.
Meanwhile, also on Face the Nation, Senator Jack Reed, D-R.I., said he believed the Senate is going to pass health care reform. "I believe we must do this because it's essential to not just the quality of life here but our economic success in the future." (Levi, 11/8).
The Associated Press: Republican officials took to the airwaves to warn that Democrats will pay a political price as a result of the majority's health care win. Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, the number 3 House GOP leader, highlighted the Republican wins in last week's Virginia and New Jersey governors' races as an indicator of how yesterday's House vote showed that Democrats are out of step with the American public. "'On a narrow partisan vote, the Democrats put their liberal, big government agenda ahead of the American people,' Pence said. 'If Democrats keep ignoring the American people, their party's going to be history in about a year.'" But Democrats argued that the outcome of those governors' races reflected state rather than national concerns. Democrats "say victories in House races in New York and California are evidence that voters support their efforts to overhaul the nation's health care system. ...'The message was clear. It's time to begin to fix what has been a broken health care system for millions of Americans,' said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee." But Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele "said the House bill allows the government to take over the health care even though Americans don't want the government in charge. 'The Democratic Party had better pay attention to what the people out here are saying,' Steele said." But Democratic Party Chair and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine "dismissed Republican talk of a backlash from the health care bill. 'They've been trying to block this all year,' Kaine said. 'They've said that they want to beat health care reform as a way to break the president.'" Pence and Van Hollen made their comments while appearing on Fox News Sunday. Steele and Kaine spoke on ABC's This Week (Daniel, 11/8).
Meanwhile, in a separate story, The Associated Press reports on White House reaction the day after the key House vote. In a brief Rose Garden statement, President Barack Obama said Sunday "it's now up to the Senate to take the baton from the House and pass a bill aimed at overhauling the nation's health care system." The Senate has not yet scheduled action on its version of health overhaul legislation, "and Republicans are pledging to stop the Democratic measure from passing Congress (11/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.