Harrycare Rolls On: Will Repubs Deal?

UPDATED: By a roll call vote of 60-39, Senate Democrats have passed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) Manager’s Amendment that encompasses all of the backroom deals used to buy votes from Democrat colleagues.  The vote, which only required a simple majority, was a display of the Democrats’ solidarity, all walking in lockstep behind their Fearless Leader to vote for a highly unpopular bill.  The Real Clear Politics average of all polling over the last two weeks shows a miserable 38.7 percent of Americans favor the bill.  Harry Reid’s polls at home aren’t doing so well either.

The latest poll from Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University (conducted Dec. 15-20) found only 36 percent in support of the measure.

If Democrats in the House from red states are wondering what passage of this bill is doing for Senate elections, the latest Rasmussen poll on the Senate race in North Dakota next November has Democrat incumbent Sen. Byron Dorgan down by 22 points with a miserable 36 percent support to possible Republican candidate Governor John Hoven’s 58 percent.

The Senate also voted to invoke cloture on the replacement amendment that is the 2,000-plus page boondoggle we’ve been debating the past weeks while waiting on Reid’s final amendment that would reflect the deals in the Senate Democrat buyoff.  Cloture was invoked starting the clock on the 30 hours of post-cloture debate before a vote for final passage of this section of the bill.  The final vote on the replacement amendment would be followed by the one cloture vote remaining:  that on the vehicle Reid used to bring this whole monstrosity to the floor, H.R. 3590, a military tax cut bill that was intended to give members of our armed services a tax break on the purchase of their first home.

Reid called for civility between Senators in his remarks, pleading for everyone to “set aside all of their personal animosity” should anyone in the Senate actually be angry over the payoffs.  Just yesterday, Reid belittled Senators who did not participate in his “Cash for Cloture” buyout.  Reid said that if a senator didn’t have a deal making provision in the bill,  “it doesn’t speak well” of them.  

The Dems’ models of behavior range from Mary Landrieu (D-La) — now known as the “Second Louisiana Purchase” — and Ben Nelson (D-Neb) who had his state exempted from the Medicaid increases.  (Never mind that it’s probably unconstitutional to give people in one state an exemption and force the other forty-nine states’ taxpayers to fund it).  

It really was “cash for cloture.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell remarked from the Senate floor that he is working with Democrats on the timing of final votes.

“We are working on an agreement that would give certainty to the way to end this session,” McConnell said.  “Hopefully the two of us together can be recommending something that makes sense for both sides in the not too distant future.”

The current timeline calls for a Christmas Eve vote for final passage. A Senate source told us that if McConnell makes any deal on accelerating the votes before recess, the Senate will still be voting on Christmas Eve.  And – more importantly – whatever deal McConnell may make will be to benefit Republicans on votes on other issues when Congress returns in January.