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Undecided House members don't trust Senate and the "special deals"; Parliamentarian weighs in on procedure.

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Stupak Says Healthcare Reform Holdouts Won’t Trust Senate

Undecided House members don’t trust Senate and the “special deals”; Parliamentarian weighs in on procedure.

Chaos reigns on Capitol Hill as House Democrat leaders seek any scheme they can devise, any rule they can break, any means they can find, by hook or by crook, to pass their government takeover of health care.

And things are getting desperate.

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), the pro-life Democrat leading one group of 12 holdouts, says he will not vote to pass the Senate health care bill now and trust the Senate to “fix” it later.  And he says he’s not alone.

Stupak told Fox News’ “On the Record” last night that the votes aren’t there to pass the Senate health care bill through the House and trust the Senate to “fix” it later.

“No, I don’t think so,” Stupak said.  “This was proposed today at the caucus and many members spoke up and said no.  It’s not good enough.  We’re not going to pass a bill — first of all, members don’t like the Senate bill.  Especially with the special deals in it.  Why would we vote for it, send it to the President so he can sign it and it becomes law, then the special deals are law, and then trust that they’re going to fix it later?  It’s not just me.  Many members said they don’t agree with that process.”

As we first reported on HUMAN EVENTS this week, there are several schemes being worked in tandem with the Slaughter House Solution, one including language that would make the passage of the first item, the Senate health care bill contingent on the Senate passing the second reconciliation part.

“There are different procedures you can use,” Stupak said.  “Some of them, like reconciliation, they talk about 51 votes, a simple majority.  You can do an enrollment corrections bill which needs only 51 votes. … It’s almost like a tie bar, it goes almost at the same time and what the bill really says is it does not become law unless this other piece of legislation becomes law.  So there’s a protection in there and that’s what members are looking for.”

Stupak also said last night that in Thursday’s caucus meeting Democrats were promised seven days to read the President’s changes that are not yet written.

“There’s so much in play here and no one has a final draft of what the bill’s supposed to be and supposed to vote on and yet they claim in caucus today that you’ll have seven days to look at it,” Stupak said.  “Well, seven days, if my math is right, today’s the 11th, seven days is the 18th and they expect us to vote on it so they’ll have to have that bill done by midnight tonight?  These are unanswered questions.”

That seven day timeline was blown at midnight last night if the President’s March 18 deadline for passage would be met. The House was held over for a Friday session to accommodate another Democratic caucus arm twisting session this morning.

 

“These procedures where we pass the Senate bill and it goes to the President, he signs it and then we fix it later? – [Friday morning] will be that discussion about whether or not members will accept it,” Stupak added.  “And I can tell you right now, members are not going to accept that. We’re not going to accept this trust me we’ll fix it later.  There has to be something more.”

The stretch to find a way to manipulate enough votes to pass this bill is bruising.  Democrats enjoy a 76-seat majority in the House. This 2,700-page bill is so unpopular that Democrats are struggling in vain at this point to find the votes to pass it.

Parliamentarian Setback for Reconciliation

Roll Call is reporting the Senate parliamentarian, Alan Frumin, has ruled the budget reconciliation process cannot be used to make any changes whatsoever to a bill that has not yet passed and been signed into law.

Senate sources at the highest levels tell HUMAN EVENTS that in answer to Republican leadership inquiry, Frumin read the rules verbatim which state the budget reconciliation can only be used to make budgetary changes to a law.

That’s very different from a formal ruling.  Further, it was verbal not in writing. 

A formal ruling would make it official:  the House would be required to first pass the Senate health care bill, including the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase, GatorAid, the federal funding of abortion, half a trillion dollars in cuts to Medicare and taxes on higher end health insurance plans mainly enjoyed by union members.  House Democrats will just have to trust the Senate to make the changes they want after the bill is signed into law by the President.

That puts Stupak and his entire group of 12 voting in the voting “no” column — if he keeps his word.

Of course, Democrats could choose the thermonuclear option and simply ignore the rules and the parliamentarian’s ruling and find a way to do it anyway.  It’s increasingly likely that going nuclear will be the only way to pass this hugely unpopular bill.

Cartoon courtesy of Brett Noel

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Connie Hair writes a weekly column for HUMAN EVENTS. She is a former speechwriter for Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.).

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