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More On The Health Care Timeline

March 2, 2010 - by Eric Naing

As Donny pointed out earlier Democrats are looking at the possibility of passing their health care plan by March 26 – just before a two-week Easter recess.

Voting on health care before the Easter recess has two benefits. First, there’s the hope that some Republicans may give up on obstructing the bill – possibly by offering hundreds of politically tricky amendments – so as to not cut into their break. And should health care pass, Democrats could go home to their districts with a major legislative victory under their belts.

Republican Senate whip Jon Kyl [R, AZ] expects a similar timeline. He also points out a potential third benefit of passing health care before the break:

“If they run up to the vote and then have a recess, they go home, they’re going to get an earful from their constituents,” Kyl said. “I don’t think they could pass it, then, when they got back from recess.”

“So my guess is the Speaker is going to make them stay here and vote for it before they have a chance to go back home and talk to their constituents about it," the minority whip added.

Health care opponents attending town hall meetings during last August’s congressional recess got a lot of attention for their extremely vocal protests. If something isn’t passed by the Easter recess, Democrats could face a replay of that scenario. And with the 2010 midterm just months away, even more lawmakers could get cold feet.

Of course, this Easter time frame should be considered a best case scenario for Democrats. A lot has to happen before any votes can take place – particularly, the White House and congressional Democrats have to reach a final agreement on the reconciliation package.

In other health care news, the AP reports that at least ten House Democrats have gone on the record as being open to switching their “no” vote on health care to a “yes.” This is potentially big news for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi [D, CA-8] who is looking for 216 votes to pass the Senate bill.

Normally 218 votes, or just over half of the House’s 425 members, would be needed but as Talking Point Memo reports, four House vacancies have lowered that threshold. And considering that the House health care bill (H.R.3962) barely squeaked by last year with 220 votes, every “yes” vote will be needed.

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