This Week in Congress - Health Care Hits the FloorNovember 2, 2009 - by Donny Shaw
After many months of committee work and behind-the-scenes negotiations, health care reform legislation is scheduled to come to the House floor for debate and a final vote this week.
This week’s House schedule (posted below) has the health care bill (H.R. 3962) coming to the floor in the latter half of the week. But before it hits the floor, the Democratic leadership has to resolve a few issues that have conservatives in their party threatening to vote against the bill en masse and cause it to fail.
Rep. Bart Stupak [D, MI-1] is leading a group of about 40 conservative Democrats who want to change the bill’s restrictions on federal funding for abortions. As currently written, the bill would not allow any federal health care subsidies to be used to pay for abortions unless the life of the mother is threatened or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. All other abortions would have to be funded with premiums paid by the individual. Insurers that provide abortion coverage would be required to segregate federal subsidies from private premiums in order to ensure that none of the subsidies go towards abortions.
Stupak wants to amend the bill so that everybody who receives federal subsidies will be denied the ability to purchase an insurance plan that covers abortions. Democratic leaders are looking to find some kind of compromise that can win over enough of Stupak’s 40 followers to allow the bill can pass without blocking all women who are eligible for subsidies from buying insurance that covers abortions. They are looking at ways to strengthen the accounting rules for segregating the funds and tweaks to language in the bill to clarify conscience clauses.
The immigration issue may also need to be addressed. Even though the bill does not allow undocumented immigrants to receive federal subsidies for buying insurance, some conservative Democrats want to change the bill to also block them from buying their own insurance through the new exchanges. This would essentially leave undocumented immigrants with no options for buying insurance and would mean that more of them would be seeking emergency help that they can’t afford, the costs of which will be passed on to hospitals, premium payers and the government.
Democratic leaders will likely propose a manager’s amendment to the bill to address these issues. They have already pledged to post any manager’s amendments online for 72 hours before beginning debate, so they will have to get it finalized today or early tomorrow morning if they want the debate to begin this week. [UPDATE: The Hill reports that Nancy Pelosi will release a manager’s amendment today in order to begin debate on Thursday.]
As always, there will be legislation on the floor of both chambers as well. Below is a complete list with links to the bill pages on OpenCongress so you can read the legislative texts, find news and blog coverage about them, leave comments, contact your members of Congress, and much more.
In the House of Representatives:
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2009
On Monday, the House will meet at 12:30 p.m. for Morning Hour and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business with votes postponed until 6:30 p.m.
Suspensions (16 Bills)
- S. 475 – A bill to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to guarantee the equity of spouses of military personnel with regard to matters of residency (Sen. Burr – Veterans’ Affairs)
- H.Res. 773 – Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to the United States Submarine Force (Rep. Boozman – Veterans’ Affairs)
- H.R. 1168 – Veterans Retraining Act of 2009 (Rep. Boozman – Veterans’ Affairs)
- H.Res. 828 – To recognize October 24, 2009, the 20th chartered flight of World War II veterans through Louisiana HonorAir, as “Louisiana HonorAir Day,” and to honor the invaluable service and dedication of the World War II veterans to our Nation (Rep. Cao – Veterans’ Affairs)
- H.R. 3949 – Veterans’ Small Business Assistance and Servicemembers Protection Act of 2009 (Rep. Filner – Veterans’ Affairs)
- H.Res. 398 – Recognizing the 60th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift’s success (Rep. Fortenberry – Veterans’ Affairs)
- H.Res. 291 – Recognizing the crucial role of assistance dogs in helping wounded veterans live more independent lives, expressing gratitude to The Tower of Hope, and supporting the goals and ideals of creating a Tower of Hope Day. (Rep. Hastings (FL) – Veterans’ Affairs)
- H.Res. 866 – Expressing support for designation of a National Veterans History Project Week to encourage public participation in a nationwide project that collects and preserves the stories of the men and women who served our nation in times of war and conflict (Rep. Kind – Veterans’ Affairs)
- H.Res. 461 – Honoring Sentinels of Freedom and commending the dedication, commitment, and extraordinary work of the organization (Rep. McNerney – Veterans’ Affairs)
- S. 509 – A bill to authorize a major medical facility project at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Walla Walla, Washington (Sen. Murray – Veterans’ Affairs)
- H.R. 3157 – To name the Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in Alexandria, Minnesota, as the “Max J. Beilke Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic” (Rep. Peterson – Veterans’ Affairs)
- H.R. 174 – To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a national cemetery for veterans in the southern Colorado region (Rep. Salazar – Veterans’ Affairs)
- H.Res. 89 – Supporting and encouraging greater support for Veterans Day each year (Rep. Baca – Veterans’ Affairs)
- H.Res. 780 – Recognizing the celebration of Filipino American History Month in October (Rep. Filner – Oversight and Government Reform)
- H.Res. 159 – Honoring the New Hampshire State Senate for becoming the 1st statewide legislative body with a majority of women in the United States (Rep. Hodes – Oversight and Government Reform)
- H.Res. 736 – Honoring President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address on “Dedication Day”, November 19, 2009 (Rep. Platts – Oversight and Government Reform)
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2009 AND THE BALANCE OF THE WEEK
On Tuesday, the House will meet at 8:00 a.m. for Morning Hour debate. The House will then meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business and recess immediately. The House will reconvene at approximately 10:00 a.m. in a Joint Meeting with the Senate to receive Her Excellency, Doctor Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. On Wednesday and Thursday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for legislative business. On Friday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business.
Suspensions (14 Bills)
- H.Res. 868 – Honoring and recognizing the service and achievements of current and former female members of the Armed Forces (Rep. Davis (CA) – Armed Services)
- H.Con.Res. 139 – Congratulating the first graduating class of the United States Air Force Academy on their 50th graduation anniversary and recognizing their contributions to the Nation (Rep. Lamborn – Armed Services)
- H.Res. 856 – Recognizing the Commissioning of the USS New York LPD 21 (Rep. Nadler – Armed Services)
- H.Res. 880 – Recognizing the efforts of career and technical colleges to educate and train workers for positions in high-demand industries (Rep. Cassidy – Education and Labor)
- H.R. 2136 – Stephanie Tubbs Jones College Fire Prevention Act (Rep. Fudge – Education and Labor)
- H.Res. 752 – Recognizing the tragic loss of life that occurred at the Cherry Mine in Cherry, Illinois, on its 100th anniversary and the contributions to worker and mine safety that resulted from this and other disasters (Rep. Halvorson – Education and Labor)
- H.Res. 878 – Expressing support for the goals and ideals of National Family Literacy Day (Rep. Platts – Education and Labor)
- H.R. 3276 – American Medical Isotopes Production Act of 2009 (Rep. Markey (MA) – Energy and Commerce)
- H.Res. 858 – Congratulating the Inter-American Foundation on its 40th anniversary and recognizing its significant accomplishments and contributions (Rep. Engel – Foreign Affairs)
- H.Res. 839 – Condemning the illegal extraction of Madagascar’s natural resources (Rep. Blumenauer – Foreign Affairs)
- H.Res. 711 – Calling on the United States Government and the international community to address the human rights and humanitarian needs of Sri Lanka’s Tamil internally displaced persons (IDPs) currently living in government-run camps by supporting the release of such IDPs, implementing and facilitating an independent oversight of the process of release and resettlement, and allowing foreign aid groups to provide relief and resources to such IDPs (Rep. Davis (IL) – Foreign Affairs)
- H.Res. 641 – Recognizing the 60th anniversary of the founding of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Rep. Ros-Lehtinen – Foreign Affairs)
- H.Res. 863 – Recognizing the scourge of pneumonia, urging the United States and the world to mobilize cooperation and prioritize resources to fight pneumonia and save children’s lives, and recognizing November 2 as World Pneumonia Day (Rep. Shea-Porter – Foreign Affairs)
- H.Res. 867 – Calling on the President and the Secretary of State to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration of the “Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict” in multilateral fora (Rep. Ros-Lehtinen – Foreign Affairs)
H.R. 3639 – Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act of 2009 (Rep. Maloney – Financial Services) (Subject to a Rule)
H.R. 2868 – Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009 (Rep. Thompson (MS) – Homeland Security) (Subject to a Rule)
H.R. 3962 – Affordable Health Care for America Act (Rep. Dingell – Energy and Commerce/Ways and Means/Education and Labor) (Subject to a Rule)
* Conference Reports may be brought up at any time.
* Motions to go to Conference should they become available.
* Possible Motions to Instruct Conferees.
In the Senate:
Monday, Nov. 2nd.
Convenes: 2:00pm MOrning Business until 4:00pm with senators permitted to speak for up to 10 minutes each.
4:00pm resume H.R.3548, Unemployment Benefits Extension Act of 2009.
There is a 3:00pm filing deadline for first degree amendments and 4:00pm filing deadline for second degree amendments to H.R.3548.
5:00pm cloture vote on the Reid-Baucus substitute amendment to.H.R.3548.