While much of the discussion about health care has focused on the lack of 60 Democratic votes in the Senate, the House may pose an even bigger obstacle. For legislative process geeks, John Podhoretz explains the coming maneuvers. First the House has to pass the Senate bill, with the understanding that there would then be discussions on a second, “reconciliation” bill (normally just used for budget matters) that “fixes what’s wrong with the first bill.”
It appears that, in an effort to make this as easy as possible on the Senate, the House is now under pressure from the Senate and the White House to vote for the reconciliation bill before the Senate. At which point the Senate will take it up and ramrod through the second bill with 51 votes, Obama signs it, and there’s health-care.
This strategy requires the House not only to vote for a wildly unpopular bill once, but then to vote on its sequel almost immediately afterward. In other words, House members are going to be forced to cast two wildly unpopular, highly visible votes in succession, without anybody else taking the heat. And there is going to be deal-making and back-scratching and all manner of sleazy behavior to achieve it, all of which will just increase the public sense of a corrupt process that has ensnared Democrats just as corruption seemed to ensnare Republicans in 2006. All so the Senate can sneak it through. And the House has good reason not to trust that the Senate will hold to its part of the bargain. What if there is a colossal meltdown in public support just before the reconciliation vote? What if the Senate decides to change it a little and throws it all back into chaos again? What if House members were to cast two votes and there was no health care at the end of the process?
…Thus, the best hope of derailing health care will not derive from high motives – stopping this dreadful measure before it becomes law — but rather very low motives — sheer, panicked self-preservation on the part of Democratic pols hoping against hope to hold on in spite of the looming Republican wave.
And remember, the House only had a five-vote margin when it passed its own version of health care “reform” last year.
Disregard all the talk about the process being “broken.” This is checks-and-balances as the Framers intended. It’s supposed to be hard to pass sweeping legislation.