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This Week in Congress: The Markup

September 21, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

With a full plate of 564 pending amendments, Sen. Max Baucus [D, MT] will take his health care bill to the full Senate Finance Committee this week to begin the actual process of debating and voting. This week's committee markup is the Senate's best chance for finding a bipartisan compromise on a health care bill that can pass under regular procedure.

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As the summer of the Democrats' discontent winds to a close, the head count for health care reform in the Senate begins in earnest. One of the key Democratic senators on the fence is Sen. Blanche Lincoln, a member of the Senate Finance Committee and one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the 2010 election. Lincoln jumped into the news today with a quote to a reporter stating her opposition to a public option plan in a health care reform bill. "I would not support a solely government-funded public option. We can't afford that," Lincoln said. The senior Arkansas senator is also the top recipient of campaign contributions from the health industry among senators this year.

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First Senate Dem Comes Out Against the Public Option

September 2, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Yesterday, Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D, AR] became the first Democrat in the Senate to say flatly that she would vote against a health care bill that includes a public health insurance option.

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House Democrat Would Choose the Public Option

August 31, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Appearing on CNBC, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz [D, FL-20] said, without reservation, that she would give up the health insurance she is given as a member of Congress and enroll in the public option.

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A Bipartisan Healthcare Bill in Both Chambers?

August 28, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

It's sounding likely. The Democrats think they have at least one Republican in the Senate willing to support a healthcare bill containing some form of a public option. On the House side, one Republican has already said that he is leaning yes on the bill.

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The Health Care Bill's Tax Increases

August 28, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The House health care bill, H.R. 3200, uses tax increase to encourage people to buy insurance and for employers to provide it, and to raise money to subsidize insurance for low-income people. This post explains the bill's three main tax proposals in detail by citing and linking to sections of the official bill text

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What's 1,000 Pages Got to Do With It?

August 26, 2009 - by Paul Blumenthal

Over the summer quite a number of people have raised hackles about the length of legislation. Recently, Sen. David Vitter declared his "fundamental" opposition to "any 1,000 page bill." While this appears to be a new found opposition -- Vitter voted in favor of the 1,000 page Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 -- the trend of lengthy legislation is not new.

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Dems Prepared to Go it Alone

August 24, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

With bipartisan healthcare negotiation strained and growing more difficult each day, Democratic leaders in Congress are getting serious about using a legislative procedure that would let them to pass a bill without any Republican support.

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Who Counts On Cloture?

August 19, 2009 - by Paul Blumenthal

While the guns of august rage at town halls throughout the country, pundits in Washington and staffers in Congress and the White House are busy counting heads to see if the object of all that fear and loathing, health care reform, has a shot at becoming law. The topic du jour is whether the Senate can overcome the 60 vote threshold of a cloture vote. Despite concerns among Democrats that they won't be able to reach the 60 vote threshold to avoid a filibuster, very few Democrats have defected on cloture votes (the vote that bypasses a filibuster) so far this year.

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Obama Admin Backs Away From a Public Option

August 17, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The public option, a proposed government-run health insurance option to compete with the private sector, was dealt a series of blows from Administration officials and the President himself over the weekend.

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Durbin 'Open' to Dropping the Public Option

August 9, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

One of President Obama's key allies in the Senate said on Sunday that, although he supports the public option, he has not ruled out passing a health care bill that does not include it.

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The Senate Finance Committee's health care bill hasn't been made public yet, but the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has seen at least some of it, and what they've seen could cause major employment issues from the same group of people that health care reform is supposed to help.

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Where are the Liberals?

August 5, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Why, with polls showing support for the health care bill running around 50 percent, is the opposition so much better organized than the support so far in the August recess?

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Yesterday, I attempted an analysis of the measly 12% approval rating for the health care bill on OpenCongress. Basically, I said that it shows that even though actual public support for the bill is running around 50 percent, the opposition is much more energized. And throughout the August district work period, the energy level is going to shape members of Congress' perception of how they should vote on the bill in September. Today, Democrat Rep. Lloyd Doggett [D, TX-25], whose meeting with co...

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Giving Up on the Public Option?

August 4, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Via a Senate aide, Politico relays the scoop from inside today's two-hour meeting at the White House between Democrats in Congress and the Obama Administration: Majority Leader Harry Reid was the first to make remarks, speaking for a little more than five minutes, the aide said. Obama followed, making opening remarks which lasted for 10-15 minutes about why health care was so important for the economic situation and he talked about how signing health care reform "would be one of the most impor...

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