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House GOP Blocks Child Nutrition Bill

December 2, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

UPDATE: The Democrats managed to pass the bill this afternoon by holding a vote on the Republican sex-offenders amendment as a stand-alone bill. The Republicans still tried to kill the child nutrition bill with the same motion to recommit, which all but one Republican voted for, but the Democrats managed to hold strong against the motion knowing that they had already voted for the amendment and that the motion to recommit served no purpose other than to stop the bill.

You know things are getting ugly when a fully paid-for bill to provide poor children with healthy school lunches is blocked. Politico:

House Democrats scrapped plans to vote on an Obama-backed child nutrition bill Wednesday after Republicans threatened to force a procedural vote that would bar funds from going to child care institutions that employ individuals who refuse criminal sex-offender background checks, or lie on them.

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A Breakthrough on Food Safety?

August 19, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Last week, an evenly bipartisan group of six senators from the Health, Education, Labor and Pesnsions Committee released a manager's amendment to the long-stalled Senate food safety bill (S.510) that they jope will provide the framework for moving forward. Hill folks are expecting this to come up before the Senate leaves for campaign season.

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Not Much of a Mandate

March 25, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Ezra Klein reminds us of a provision in the health care bill dating back to the Senate Finance Committee's work in October that is important, but largely forgotten. If you don't abide with the bill's requirement starting in 2014 that you have acceptable health coverage, you are supposed to pay a fine to the government. But, under the new bill, those who fail to get insurance and fail to pay the fine will pretty much get off scott free.

And what happens if you don't buy insurance and you don't pay the penalty? Well, not much. The law specifically says that no criminal action or liens can be imposed on people who don't pay the fine. If this actually leads to a world in which large numbers of people don't buy insurance and tell the IRS to stuff it, you could see that change. But for now, the penalties are low and the enforcement is non-existent.

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The Senate stayed in session late into the night on Wednesday, voting over and over to reject dilatory Republican amendments to the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act and moving closer to a final vote on passage. The bill proposes a number of "fixes" to the new health care law, like increasing subsidies for helping people buy insurance and lowering tax penalties on those who don't, and includes unrelated legislation to reform the student loan industry. A full summary of the reconciliation bill can be read here.

By the time the Senate adjourned at 2:50 a.m. ET on Thursday morning, they had rejected 29 Republican amendments to the bill on everything from repealing the new health care bill to undoing Washington D.C.'s gay marriage law. But as it turns out, the situation the Democrats were working all night on Wednesday to avoid, having to send the bill back to the House for another vote, is unavoidable. This AP is reporting that the GOP has succesfully altered the bill by finding violations in the bill under the Byrd Rule.

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How They Voted on Health Care Reform

March 22, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

As I reported last night, the House of Representative passed the final vote needed to send health care reform to President Obama to be signed into law. The bill was approved with a handful of votes to spare, even though no Republicans ended up voting in favor. Here's a more detailed look at how lawmakers of the House voted.

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Your Guide to the House Health Care Vote

March 20, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

After more than 13 hours and 80 amendments later, the Rules Committee adjourned on Saturday night with a rule in place to allow the House of Representatives to debate and vote Sunday on the health care bill and the package of fixes in the reconciliation bill. As announced earlier in the day, there will be no "deem and pass" straegy employed. The health care bill and the reconciliation bill conatining the "fixes" will get straight up-or-down votes.

In total, it's expected that there will be seven votes held throughout the day. Two on the rule, two on budget points of order, one on a Republican motion to recommit, and one each on the two bills that will be voted on. All of the votes will require a simple majority of 216 "ayes" to pass. All the action is expected to start at about 1 p.m. ET. Here's your guide to Sunday's floor debate as the Democrats take this monumental step towards finalizing Congress and President Obama's health care reform effort.

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VIDEO: Obama's FInal HCR Speech to Wavering Dems

March 20, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

With the Rules Committee in session and the health care rallies and protests outside the Capitol today, President Obama went to Congress and gave House Democrats an off-the-cuff pep talk on tomorrow's big vote. Thanks to C-SPAN's awesome new video library, you can watch the whole thing here:

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The Manager's Amendment

March 20, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

As expected, the Rules Committee has released a "manager's amendment" (.pdf) to make some last minute changes to the budget reconciliation bill that contains the fixes to the Senate health care bill.

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"Deem and Pass" Deemed Dead

March 20, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The Rules Committee meeting is still going on. But the biggest decision of the day has already been made. The Democrats have decided not to use the "self-executing rule," otherwise known as "deem and pass," and will instead hold a separate vote on passing the Senate health care bill.

This is a strong sign that Speaker Nancy Pelosi [D, CA-8] has more than enough votes for passing the health care bill on Sunday.

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Setting the Rules

March 20, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The House Committee on Rules meets at 10 a.m. ET today to craft the "rule" that will govern the big health care vote that is scheduled for Sunday in the House. The biggest question they'll have to tackle will be whether to use a "self-executing rule," which would allow the Democrats to deem the health care bill to be passed in the House without requiring them to take a stand-alone vote on it.

Here's your update on what to watch on Saurday as health care reform moves closer to the finish line.

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New Bill, New Perks

March 19, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

With the release of the new package of fixes to the Senate health care bill, some of the most porky items in the bill, like the "Cornhusker Kickback," the "Louisiana Purchase" and the "Gator Aid," have been eliminated. But some new state-specific provisions have also been added.

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Health Care Bill Summary: Follow the Endgame

March 18, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The 72 hour clock has begun to tick, all the materials for the final health care bill are online, a House vote is tentatively set for Sunday, President Obama has again postponed his Asia trip, and the votes are steadily flipping in the direction of getting this bill done and signed into law. Click through for a summary & links with everything you need to keep up as health care reform approaches the finish line.

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Health Care Reconciliation Bill Summary

March 18, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The full text of the Reconciliation Act of 2010 has been released, and we're hustling to covert it into HTML and get it online for easier digging, commenting and permalinking. We'll have that in a matter of hours. In the meantime, I recommend you read this summary as prepared by the House Rules Committee that describes in plain English how the bill would amend the Senate health care bill and how it would affect current law. Summary posted below the fold.

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Kucinich Will Vote "Yes"

March 17, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

When health care passed the House in November, Rep. Dennis Kucinich [D, OH-10] was one of the 39 Democrats who voted "no." He was one of the only vote Democrats lost to the left; the only Democrat voting against it because the bill didn't do enough to eliminate for-profit insurance.

But, this morning, he said he will vote "yes" on the Senate's health care bill, even though it is more conservative than the House health care bill he originally voted "no" on.

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As I reported earlier, the "deem and pass" strategy that House Democrats are considering using for passing the Senate health care bill, allowing them to pass it without actually taking a separate vote on it, isn't unprecedented. It has been used at least 6 times for in the past 20 years for enacting what the Congressinoal Research Service calls "significant substantive and sometimes controversial propositions," mostly by Republicans.

But it has never been used in the way the Democrats are considering using it -- to pass a bill through the House that doesn't have the votes to pass on its own. As the research below shows, 4 of the 6 uses of the "deem and pass" process, also known as the "self-executing rule," were approved unanimously by voice vote. The other two passed with votes to spare. These are on the 6 supposedly controversial uses of the rule that CRS gives. It appears that the process has mainly been used to speed up adoption of Senate amendments that would have been easily approved under normal procedure.

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