CORRECTION: Amid conflicting reports and information on the timing of the health care bill, HUMAN EVENTS just received clarification on possibilities under the rules for the Senate schedule next week.
This week, Reid began a Rule 14 process on the House health care bill. What that means is the bill is available on the legislative calendar by Tuesday, November 17. It does not mean the Senate will actually proceed to health care.
Because a tax bill cannot originate in the Senate, Reid needed a shell to use to proceed to his health care bill. He is using the House-passed version as a shell to move on the Senate’s health care bill. Rule 14 was the easiest way to place the House bill on the calendar — the shell that will ultimately be fully substituted by the Harrycare bill.
The Senate must still complete Military Construction Appropriations and a cloture motion has been filed on the nomination of David Hamilton to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. In order to immediately begin consideration of the health care bill, Reid must have a unanimous consent agreement, which is unlikely.
Without unanimous consent, Reid is forced to file for cloture on Tuesday. The vote on the Motion to Proceed to the health care bill could not occur until Thursday morning at the earliest.
There are also 30 hours of post-cloture debate that, if used, would delay any adoption of a Motion to Proceed until Friday afternoon which would then be the earliest Reid could offer the actual Senate bill as a substitute amendment. This would be the Friday before the week-long Thanksgiving recess.
Apparently oblivious to the unpopularity of the government takeover of America’s health care system, Democrat leaders in the House and Senate continue to lay the structural groundwork for the final passage of a health care bill this year.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) revised the House calendar yesterday to include Monday, December 21 and Tuesday, December 22 as possible days the House will be in session and voting. The previously-targeted date for Christmas adjournment was Friday, December 18.
The House will be in recess for the Thanksgiving holiday the week of November 23.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday night filed a Motion to Proceed to bring the House health care bill to the floor for debate by no later than Tuesday, November 16. Reid needs 60 votes for the motion to pass and floor debate to begin.
But Senate sources tell HUMAN EVENTS that he’s doing this only to comply with the constitutional rule that revenue bills must originate in the House. Reid intends to substitute his own bill (whatever that may be) when the measure comes up in the Senate next week.
Pro-life senators could oppose the motion if the Stupak-Pitts pro-life language is not included in the bill before it comes up for this critical vote. Once the bill is brought to the floor for debate, it will take 60 votes to make any additions to the bill. It is unlikely a pro-life amendment could reach that threshold.
Republican Senators should oppose the motion en masse. Republicans have been excluded from the entire bill-writing process, and his bill is certain to be as bad (or in some ways even worse) than the bill Speaker Pelosi slammed through the House late Saturday night. Reid has not yet released a Senate bill with legislative language for Republican or general public review. The measure is being written behind closed doors by the White House and Democrat leadership. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost analysis of the Senate bill has not yet been completed but may be available by week’s end.
There is no reason for Republicans to desire to get a bill to the floor.
If any one of the 58 Democrats or the two independents opposes the motion on Tuesday, combined with a united Republican caucus, the motion fails and Harrycare stalls in the Senate.
In late October, one of the more centrist Democrats, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), remarked that he doesn’t see “much difference between process and policy at this particular juncture” and that he’ll be “looking at those two things as one and the same.”
Both chambers are moving through these procedures in hopes of forcing a vote before Christmas — as if Christmas turkey tryptophan will cause America’s voters to suffer collective amnesia.
The Gallup poll released just yesterday shows independent registered voters now favor any Republican candidate over a Democrat on the generic ballot by a stunning 52 to 30 percent. Yes, that’s the independents. The American people appear to be more worried about the current Democrat solutions to our problems than the actual problems themselves.
On Tuesday, former President Bill Clinton waded into the debate as he counseled Democratic Senators on next steps. Clinton told the Senate Democrats they should pass a health care bill — any health care bill — this year, asserting that his failure to pass Hillarycare in 1993 led to the successful Republican Revolution. (Wonder if he said that with a straight face.)
The most sweeping achievement of Clinton’s presidency was his handing control of Congress to Republicans. The far left radical nature of Hillarycare helped motivate independents, Democrats and Republicans to turn out at the polls in droves in 1994 to drive a stake through the heart of socialized medicine.
Bill and Hillary Clinton also ignored the warning signs when Republicans swept the 1993 gubernatorial elections as they did last week. Republicans could not be on more sound footing than with Bill Clinton’s goofy revisionist history guiding Senate Democrats.
Americans resent being ignored by arrogant politicians who think they know better how to run our lives than we do. And mocking efforts to make our voices heard really isn’t a very good way to win votes and influence people.
The attitude on display by Democrat leaders in Congress and the White House these days is exactly what led to the Republican takeover in 1994.
Voters do not forget that particular brand of arrogance.
Budget Reconciliation Status Update
The current Senate health care measure teed up for the Motion to Proceed vote next Tuesday is not a bill designated as a budget reconciliation measure. Should this motion fail, the scenario offered by the Heritage Foundation’s Brian Darling remains a valid means by which the Senate could facilitate passage of a bill through reconciliation this year. With no changes, it would go straight from the House to Obama’s desk for signature by the end of the year.
There is another scenario to ponder this year in lieu of the House or Senate reporting bills out of committee with the budget reconciliation designation early next year.
H.R. 3962, the health care bill already passed by the House last week, was not designated as a budget reconciliation bill. However, all three House committees of jurisdiction took measures to certify that H.R.3200, the bill’s predecessor, met all of the budget reconciliation requirements.
But we’re told H.R. 3200 was not reported out of the Budget Committee to the Rules Committee as a reconciliation measure before it was brought to the floor and passed.
Should the Senate pass a health care bill with whatever it takes to get the votes, the House and Senate bills go to conference to combine the two measures that emerge as a Conference Report which is actually the final compromise bill. The Conference Report must then pass both the House and the Senate.
A concern raised yesterday was using budget reconciliation as a means to pass the Conference Report through the Senate. Can the Conference Report emerge as a reconciliation measure?
House Rules currently say no, yet we should all be reminded that House rules are what the majority says they are.
The success of any budget reconciliation attempt in the Senate rests on rulings by the parliamentarian. We all watched as the White House summoned the “non-partisan” CBO Director Doug Elmendorf for some Chicago-style political repartee. We’ve also seen the integrity of the subsequent House CBO scores collapsing under scrutiny.
How far are Democrats willing to go to get their ultimate statist power grab across a finish line that’s oh, so close? All the way.
Cartoon by Brett Noel.
Sign up to the Human Events newsletter