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Senate Still on Track to Pass Health Care Reform by Christmas

December 22, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The Senate this morning passed two more procedural hurdles on their health care bill and remain on track to pass the bill before Christmas.

Today’s votes were on passage of the manager’s amendment (.pdf), which contains the meat of the “deal” that won unanimous support for the bill among Democrats, and on ending a filibuster of the substitute amendment (as amended by the manager’s amendment), which is basically the underlying Senate health care bill. Both votes passed along party lines, with all 60 Democrats voting in favor and all Republicans that were present voting against. Sen. James Inhofe [R, OK] flew home early for Christmas and did not vote.

Under Senate rules, Republicans can (and are expected to) now require 30 more hours of debate before the Senate votes on passage of the substitute amendment, which means it will take place tomorrow at about 1 p.m. After that, there will be a vote on wrapping up debate of the bill itself (as amended by the substitute amendment as amended by the manager’s amendment). After that, Republicans could again hold debate of the bill open for 30 hours, but there is now some indication that Republican and Democratic leaders are working out a deal to allow a final vote on passage of the bill happen on Wednesday in order to avoid ice storms in the midwest that could hinder senators’ holiday travel plans. (UPDATE: the final vote has officially been scheduled for 8 a.m. on Christmas Eve).

Once the Senate passes their bill, Congress will break for the holidays and not come back until mid to late January. While they are away on recess though, a conference committee made up of committee leaders from the Senate and House will meet to reconcile the different House and Senate health care bills in to a final version that can must be approved again by both chambers. According to Christina Bellantoni at TPM, the final bill that comes out of conference committee is probably going to look a lot like the more conservative Senate bill and completely eschew many of the House bill’s main features, including the public option.

House Democrats believe they will secure additional health care reform votes from Blue Dog Democrats thanks to the Senate’s more conservative version of the legislation. And despite deep misgivings, the House Democratic leadership expects to lose few if any progressive Democratic votes over the demise of the public option, paving the way to get a final bill to President Obama’s desk by Feb. 1.
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tigercosmos 12/22/2009 9:00am

American’s had a wonderful opportunity to see our legislative process work in both houses of our Congress during this health care debate. The Senate and House bills are a product of the wonderfully messy legislative process.

American’s exercised their rights to be heard in the debate as well – everything from shouting down representatives and their constituents at town hall meetings to writing opinionated letters to the editor both in local newspapers and online.

There were also the rants of family members, friends, co-workers, and the occasional stranger at the checkout counter attempting to convince anyone that will listen that they are a Nobel Prize Economist, a well informed legal expert on U.S. Constitutional Law, or the Drucker/Deming genius of health care reform.

What a mess freedom makes! I love America!

craines 12/23/2009 4:40am

The extra tax on the Cadillac plans will be hard on the Union Members of this nation. In some cases our contracts come up every three years. We might negotiate let’s say a $1.50 raise the first year, a $1.50 the second year and a $1.50 the third year. Then it goes to the membership to vote on how the money or raises will be divided up in our package.

Right now most pension plans are under stress so the majority of the raise has went right into the general pension fund to beef it up. Our pensions have to be funded by a certain percentage by law. If it isn’t it goes into “critical status” That’s where most pension plans are now. So with that said, now some part of our future contract raises will probably have to be allocated in another direction to cushion this extra tax.

We are the middle class and it looks like we are going to be taxed more on our
union packages. I’m not sure who introduced this idea into this bill, I would like to know.


Saveusallfromtyranny 12/22/2009 11:32am
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The arrogance of them all to try and pass bill that most Americans disagree with. I don’t think anyone disputes our Healthcare needs reform but not at this cost.
I want to share a quote from Christina D. Romer, a member of the Council of Economic Advisers. “Our analysis suggests that the so-called “Cadillac tax,” which will be levied only on the most expensive private sector plans, will provide health insurers with a powerful incentive to reduce their premiums and provide a high-value package of benefits. The added benefit is that the resulting reduction in premiums will lead employers to pay substantially higher wages to affected employees, with this effect growing over time, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation.”

Now is that just insane to assume your employer will give you a raise because his healthcare bill went down and your’s went up? Where do they find these people?

sunnysnow 12/22/2009 12:35pm
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If you have not read all of the bill, VOTE NO NO NO . come on this just too much.

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