Health Care Ping-Pong

by Sal on January 5, 2010

in Health Care,Politics

Word on the hill is that Democrats are meeting this week to hash out a health care agreement between the House and Senate without a formal conference committee.  This is for the purpose of avoiding a series of cloture votes that the GOP could use to slow down the formation of a conference, as well as any agreement that takes shape (using motions to recommit and other such procedural tools).  It also completely excludes the GOP from any negotiations.

The way it will work is that the House and Senate will attempt to create a compromise agreement that can pass both houses.  Then, it will go back to the House to pass as an amendment, which the Senate (subject to cloture) will the have to agree to.  If ANY amendments are introduced in either chamber after the agreement back-room deal occurs, it will “ping-pong” back to the other chamber.  Red State has a good, more detailed synopsis of the process going forward.

So, yet again, the administration that promised “hope and change” and openness in government is meeting behind closed doors with one party in congress, excluding the GOP, the media, and the American people from the debate.  Still, there are many liberals and Democrats upset that a formal conference is not taking place, so there is still hope in the end that this monstrosity can be defeated.

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Mike January 5, 2010 at 9:18 am

This is overblown as it is no shadier than the way the Dems have already been running things. The crucial point is that the motion to proceed in the Senate and final passage on any changed version are still subject to a filibuster. On the bright side, maybe the secrecy will turn people off even more.


Sal January 5, 2010 at 11:20 am

Very true, yet itit is just one more example of how the Democrat congress is not living up to the “hope-and-change” promised by this administration. It’s not news or surprise to us that they are doing this kind of “back-room” dealing, but it will to those who might have voted for Obama thinking that he was indeed “hopey-change”.

On the practical side, it does prevent the GOP from slowing down the process. Each additional cloture vote for a conference would require at least 30 hrs of debate, as well as all of the other procedural motions.


Mike January 5, 2010 at 11:37 am

But that’s my point. The same amount of cloture votes are still required. One to consider the revised bill (just like the motion to proceed to conference) and one on final passage of the revised bill (just like passage of the conference report). Debate on consideration of a conference report isn’t subject to cloture anyway so the Dems aren’t bypassing anything on the filibuster front.

The time saved on a Motion to Recommit in the House is about an hour. Some on our side of the internet are panicking over this story for no reason.


Sal January 6, 2010 at 11:32 am

You’re missing some cloture votes there.

- Cloture vote on motion to declare bills incompatible
- Cloture vote on motion to declare a conference
- Cloture vote on motion to appoint conferees

All three of those are usually dispensed with by unanimous consent, but the GOP could definitely gum up the works a bit.

Additionally, there can also be an unlimited number of motions to instruct, and each one would have to be read allowed without unanimous consent and have full debate on each motion.

I’m not panicking about it, it is likely good political strategy on their part. But it is still a violation of Obama’s pledge, which is my primary point. And it would have been fun to see the political gamesmanship of Coburn/DeMint and others to delay the process.


Mike January 6, 2010 at 11:45 am

Those three cloture motions are guaranteed to pass once the first one does because they are done in succession.

I never said you were panicking but if you take a look around the right side of the blogosphere, there is an alarming number of people who are under the impression that this move allows the Dems to slip Obamacare by without a cloture motion. That is not the case.

Does this save them time? Yes. Does it save them embarrassment? Maybe. But it does not break any rules and does not let them off the filibuster hook. And that is the point I tried to dispel because it is out there.


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