Democrats Begin Plotting Two-Pronged Strategy To Pass Health Care Reform
Democrats have begun plotting out a strategy to proceed with their two-pronged approach to pass health reform legislation, CQ Today reports.
The party currently is debating how to move forward with the second aspect of the strategy -- a so-called "corrections" bill that makes House-favored changes to the Senate legislation (HR 3590) -- which could create potential problems for progress on an overhaul (Epstein et al., CQ Today, 3/9).
Democrats currently are awaiting Congressional Budget Office analysis of preliminary proposals in the corrections bill, which they said could come as early as this week. The House Budget Committee could begin drafting the corrections legislation as early as Thursday (Epstein et al., CQ Today, 3/9).
In one potential path forward, the Budget Committee would combine earlier versions of reform legislation that three House committees approved last fall, following the committee's instructions in the fiscal year 2010 budget resolution.
Under this strategy, the House Rules Committee would insert into the budget resolution proposals for corrections agreed upon by Democratic leaders and the White House and send the bill to the House floor.
Two-Pronged Strategy Worries Some House Lawmakers
Some House members are concerned that their Senate colleagues might be less determined to move forward with the second part of the strategy after the Senate bill already is law.
However, House members still are considering ways to ensure that the Senate fulfills its promise to pass a corrections bill. In one strategy, House members are considering including in the ground rules a provision that would state the Senate bill would not be sent to the president for his signature unless the Senate passes the corrections bill through budget reconciliation (Adams/Hunter, CQ Today, 3/9).
Despite House members' concerns, some lawmakers say congressional rules mandate that the Senate bill must be signed into law before the Senate can move on the corrections bill.
According to the New York Times, Democrats currently are waiting for a ruling from House and Senate parliamentarians on whether Obama must sign health reform legislation into law before Congress amends it through budget reconciliation (Herszenhorn/Pear, New York Times, 3/9).
Republicans are attempting to exploit the concerns of House members that the Senate will not carry out a vote on the corrections bill, the Washington Post reports. (Murray, Washington Post, 3/10).
Members of the GOP have suggested that Obama might as well consider health reform completed when he signs the Senate bill (New York Times, 3/9).
Democrats Prepare for GOP Action
Meanwhile, Democratic leaders have begun preparing for Republican strategies to thwart their efforts to move forward with health reform legislation, Roll Call reports. Reid has scheduled a meeting on Wednesday with 22 freshman and sophomore Democrats to encourage them to take a more aggressive stand against Republicans.In addition, Senate Rules and Administration Chair Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is planning a series of hearings on changes to the Senate filibuster rules, in response to Democratic concerns about Republican's obstructionist tactics (Stanton, Roll Call, 3/9). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.