Saturday, February 20, 2010

He Sees The Train Coming And Hes Getting Off The Tracks

A curious thing happened last week. Kathleen Sebelius went on The Rachel Maddow show, something most Obama administration officials have been loathe to do, and said this:

Maddow: "The private insurance company writ large hasn't done a great job. That's why we want a public option to compete with them. These 18 Democratic senators want to bring that back into the fold. If that happened, would the administration fight for it?"

Sebelius: "Well, I think if it's...Certainly. If it's part of the decision of the Senate leadership to move forward, absolutely."
At the time I said this in the comment section over at The Plum Line:

If Harry Reid is smart he will put the public option up for a vote via reconcilliation and let whatever is going to happen, happen. What Sebelius effectively did last night was lay him down right in front of the bus. Now if the public option doesn’t at least get an up and down vote via reconcilliation the only person who can and will be found at fault will be Harry Reid and that bus is going to run over him and back up a few times. Of course he should do it any way because its the right thing but he has signed his retirement papers now as a Senator if he doesn’t unless the White House walks back Sebelius words and I don’t see that happening.

Now comes this from The Hill:

Democrats will finish their health reform efforts within the next two months by using a majority-vote maneuver in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said.

Reid said that congressional Democrats would likely opt for a procedural tactic in the Senate allowing the upper chamber to make final changes to its healthcare bill with only a simple majority of senators, instead of the 60 it takes to normally end a filibuster.

"I've had many conversations this week with the president, his chief of staff, and Speaker Pelosi," Reid said during an appearance Friday evening on "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" in Nevada. "And we're really trying to move forward on this."

The majority leader said that while Democrats have a number of options, they would likely use the budget reconciliation process to pass a series of fixes to the first healthcare bill passed by the Senate in November. These changes are needed to secure votes for passage of that original Senate bill in the House.

"We'll do a relatively small bill to take care of what we've already done," Reid said, affirming that Democrats would use the reconciliation process. "We're going to have that done in the next 60 days."

The move would allow Democrats to essentially go it alone on health reform, especially after losing their filibuter-proof majority in the Senate after Sen. Scott Brown's (R) special election victory in Massachusetts.

Now to be sure this doesn't mean that the public option will be in the bill that the Senate passes via reconcilliation. But for quite some time now the health care reform bill has been held up simply because the House could pass the Senate bill as is and have it on the President's desk almost immediately, but they wanted assurances that the Senate would pass some fixes ie compromises via reconcilliation to get around the fact that they no longer held a supermajority which meant if the bill changed in conference it would have to be passed in both Houses of Congress once again. Harry Reid had been reluctant to make that kind of promise about using reconcilliation to pass the fixes up until now. So you have to ask yourself, what exactly has changed his mind?

Well I can't say for sure, but Harry Reid is nobody's fool. He didn't get elected over and over again to the Senate by not seeing the writing on the wall. He could tell that if this bill didn't get passed he would end up as the scapegoat. And with horrible polling numbers already in Nevada I don't think he was going to let that happen.

Of course saying it will get passed in 60 days and passing it in 60 days are two different things. But I for one feel a lot more hopeful now about it getting passed than I have since the process started.

Stay tuned!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Come Hard Or Not At All!