Sunday, March 21, 2010

No Deem and Pass, Still Some Intrigue But the Dems Say They Have It

Rules Committee (Wisely) Abandons Slaughter Rule
The rules committee in the House yesterday wisely abandoned the widely panned "self-executing rule" which would have allowed the House to "deem" the Senate health care bill passed without directly voting for passage. From my view, this was sort of an irrelevant inside Washington debate, since everybody was going to know that those who voted for the self-executing rule were really voting for the underlying bill, but it was turning into a PR disaster for Democrats, and rightly so. If you want to vote for health care bill, vote for the health care bill.

So, here's what you will see today in the House:
The House will convene at 1 PM and begin with a period of debate on the rules for debate. There will then be three votes, with debate before each of them:
(1) A vote on the rules for debate
(2) A vote on the reconciliation fixes, which withdraw the "cornhusker kickback" and the "Louisiana purchase", scale back the tax on high cost health care plans and provide additional funding for lower income subsidies.
(3) A vote on the Senate health care bill, as passed in the Senate.

If vote #1 fails, votes #2 and #3 don't happen. If vote #2 fails, the House could still proceed to vote #3, although it would likely fail as well. If everything passes, the Senate bill goes to the President for signature and the reconciliation bill goes to the Senate for action. Under Senate rules, the President must sign the underlying bill before the Senate can vote on the reconciliation measure.

It's Very Close, But Dems Say the Have It
Democratic leaders, including people in the know like Hoyer and Clybern say that they will have the votes when the roll is called. But it is going to be very close. Here are the latest numbers:

* All Republicans are opposed to the bill, 177 in total
* There are 202 confirmed Democratic "yes" votes
* There are 31 confirmed Democratic "no" votes

This leaves the "on-the-record" vote at 208 opposed and 202 in favor, with 19 Democrats sitting on the fence. Since the Democrats need 14 of those 19 in order to get passage.

One has to think that if a Democrat has not declared yet that they are "gettable"...if they were truly not available as a "yes" vote, you would think that they would already be on record. What I suspect is happening is that there are a few out of those 19 that are hunting for a deal and a few that are available to Democrats if needed as the decisive vote but who would prefer to vote "no" for political reasons if there is any margin that will allow them to.

Debate gets underway at 1 PM. I'll be watching on CSPAN.

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