Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Daily Strike-3/2/10-Take Their Ideas and Move On

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. It is possible, not likely, but possible, that we're beginning to see the Democrats have a little fight in them.

(LATE UPDATE: It looks like Bunning has given up his one man filibuster. He has agreed to let the Senate vote on a temporary extension of unemployment benefits this evening. We'll have more on this tomorrow).

HEALTH CARE: So it looks like President Obama has sent his clearest signal yet as to how he plans to end the health reform fight. The President sent a letter to Congressional leaders today that contained a list of Republican ideas he wants included in the final bill. Below these suggestions was the demand that Congress pass a bill as soon as possible. Among the Republican ideas Obama was to accept:

1. A program by Senator Coburn (R-OK) to route out waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare. This would include super-sneaky undercover investigations of health providers.

2. More funding to states for demonstration projects to crack down on malpractice abuse.

3. Increased funding to states to fund a Medicaid expansion (not sure this is really a GOP idea).

4. Expansion of health savings accounts.

I don't have any real objection to including these ideas in the final version of health reform. These concessions will not gain any Republican votes. Again, it's all about showing the American electorate that we TRIED to include Republicans in the process. This could give vulnerable Democrats some political cover to vote for the bill, I suppose.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has hinted on a timeline for a health care endgame. The CBO would grade the President's revised proposal by next week. The House would then vote for a reconciliation package consisting of the President's changes to the Senate bill. That package will go to the Senate, where it could pass with a simple majority (the GOP will try any delay tactic in the book to make that process more difficult). Next, the House would approve the original Senate package and send both bills to President Obama. The idea would be to get all of this done by the Easter Congressional recess, which is the last week in March. This plan might be wise because the House would only accept the flawed Senate bill when they have been absolutely sure that the package of changes have been approved.

BUNNING: The showdown with chief Republican obstructionist Jim Bunning continues. Democrats have repeatedly asked unanimous consent today to move a package of tax extenders that includes an extension of unemployment and COBRA insurance. Bunning repeatedly objected, as he has been doing for the past week or so. Democrats are sensing that they can make some political hay out of this obstructionism. There are reports tonight that the Democrats might actually make Bunning physically filibuster all night. Bunning is in his late-70's. Eventually he'll have to make a run for the rest room. Democrats will be there to ask unanimous consent to the pass the bill. If Bunning wants his filibuster to succeed, he'll have to bring another Republican colleague to the floor to object. This, I think, would make some good political theater.

Of course, the American people don't want political theater. They want their unemployment benefits. Democrats could have filed cloture on this bill and gotten it passed by now. At a certain point, they should be more focused on doing the people's business than exploiting Republican obstructionism. Of course, I'd be happy if they could do both.

The Senate did find time today to approve the nomination of Barbara Keenan to be a Circut Court Judge by a vote of 99-0. Despite the unanimous vote, Republicans still filibustered her nomination just to stall time. They forced Democrats to hold two 99-0 votes, one to cut off debate on the nomination, and one on the nomination itself.

The only person not voting was Texas Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is home campaigning in today's primary election for Texas Governor. It looks likely that her only chance of winning that race will be if she can force incumbent Governor Rick Perry into a runoff.

THE HOUSE: The House today voted on a few suspension bills. They'll get into serious legislative business tomorrow and Thursday, including a bill on child safety and possible consideration (hopefully) of a Senate-passed jobs measure.

That's it for now. See you tomorrow evening! Leave comments!

No comments:

Post a Comment