The Democrats’ ObamaCare Problem

by Sal on March 10, 2010

in Health Care,Law,Politics

Despite talks of optimism from Nancy Pelosi, all the signs are there that the Democrats don’t have the votes to pass ObamaCare, and don’t even have a plan on how to procedurally do it.  The fact of the matter is that the House doesn’t trust the Senate to push through the reconciliation fixes, and most members of the House do not want to be left with just the Senate bill.

Earlier reports to the contrary, Bart Stupak is not wavering on his position, and he made it clearer last night.  He will not waver unless he gets acceptable language into the bill, and not unless there is a guarantee that the Senate will act on it.  No small feat.  Besides the fact that the Senate can’t be trusted, the Republicans are planning on denying the waiving of the point of order that would allow the Stupak amendment to be part of reconciliation, which means that it would likely be stripped from the bill in the Senate.  Keep in mind that every one of the Stupak 12 voted for ObamaCare last time around, and that if even one votes no this time around, the bill is toast.

Next, take a look at the parliamentary maneuvering that the Democrats are attempting in order to try to make this work.  Their latest idea is to change the rules of the House (something that can be done with a simple majority vote) to allow the Senate bill to be bound to the reconciliation fix.  This would allow the Democrats in the House to pass both as separate but tethered together, so that if the reconciliation fix fails in the Senate, the Senate bill would not become law. However, the Senate is another matter.  It has no provision for considering “tethered” bills, so it would also require a rules change (not the mention the question on whether it is even legal or Constitutional).  Unlike the House, where a simple majority sets the rules, the Senate has “standing rules” which carry over from session to session.  These rules require a 67-vote super-majority to be amended, which is fairly impossible in the current climate.

So where does that leave us?  Jim Geraghty does the math, and determines that at most, the Democrats appear to be one vote short of passage.  He counts 216 no votes and 215 yes votes as the Democrats’ best-case scenario.  That assumes that EVERY one of the Stupak 12 votes yes, and that no other yes votes from the previous bill flip to no.  The truth of the matter is, if she had the votes, it would be on the floor today.  In reality, there is no bill, no roadmap on how to move forward, and not enough “Yes” votes.  Yet the President keeps going all-in on this issue, which most Democrats wish would just go away.

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