Reid Threatening to Cancel Recess

With Congressional Republicans stalling just about anything and everything that crosses their desks, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is pulling out an important trump card: Threatening to keep the Senate in session as long as it takes to get the business of the chamber done.

Congress has only been back in session for a week, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is already warning he may cancel the next break because of a lack of GOP cooperation.

Reid (D-Nev.) has warned Republicans that they need to pick up the legislative pace or he will cancel the weeklong Columbus Day recess next month.

Reid told Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that the Senate will stay in session straight through October if Republicans slow the floor debate on appropriations bills and other issues.

While this particular fight is over appropriations, with the Republicans doing their darndest to ensure that the Congress is unable to pass bills covering individual areas and consequently must pass a giant omnibus bill, it's hard to separate it from the broader unhappiness with Republican obstruction -- on nominations, on appropriations, and, most notably, on healthcare reform.

The GOP seems to have it in its mind that it can just wait out the clock (for the next year and a half!) until a new Congress arrives, slowing down the work of the people so that President Obama and the Democratic Congress can't enact the slate of reforms they were elected on. By playing this trump card, by threatening to cancel the upcoming recess, Reid is saying that he'll have none of it, that he won't allow the Republicans to halt the move towards change. This is the type of fight the Democrats need right now, and hopefully it's a harbinger of the resolve the party will show during the remaining time in the current Congress to make into law their ambitious agenda.

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House GOP Supports Wilson's Disgrace of Chamber

Republicans apparently believe it's alright to breach more than 200 years of decorum by slandering the President of the United States to his face on the floor of the House of Representatives.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is voting no on Tuesday's expected resolution condemning Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) -- and a GOP letter calling for other Republicans to hold the line is gathering steam.

Your modern Republican Party.

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Senate Invokes Cloture on Sunstein Nomination

I missed this yesterday, but it's worth noting that last night the Senate finally broke the filibuster of Cass Sunstein, President Obama's nominee to head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. The final vote was 63 to 35, with seven Republicans voting in favor of cloture (Bob Bennett, Susan Collins, Judd Gregg, Orrin Hatch, Dick Lugar, Olympia Snowe and George Voinovich) and three Democrats voting in opposition (Blanche Lincoln, Mark Pryor and Jim Webb). Next up Dawn Johnsen?

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Baucus Bill Devoid of Public Option, Trigger

So reports New York Times health correspondent Robert Pear:

The proposal is the culmination of more than a year of work by the chairman, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana. A similar fee was proposed by several liberal Democrats in July. In making it part of his proposal, Mr. Baucus may help cover the costs of the bill but also risks alienating Republicans whom he is trying to win over. Mr. Baucus is struggling to forge a bipartisan consensus among 6 of the 23 senators on his committee before President Obama puts new pressure on lawmakers in an address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday evening.

The proposal by Mr. Baucus does not include a public option, or a government-run insurance plan, to compete with private insurers, as many Democrats want.

[...]

Mr. Baucus's proposal does not include a "trigger mechanism" of the type recommended by Ms. Snowe, who would offer a public insurance plan in any state where fewer than 95 percent of the people had access to affordable coverage.

It's not clear whether and to what extent this reported plan from Finance Chairman Max Baucus could draw support from progressives within the Democratic caucus, let alone the President. More as we hear it...

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A Public Option... But with a Trigger?

Marc Ambinder is on the story.

Senior White House officials, in conversations with reporters today, are floating the idea that President Obama is secretly negotiating with Sen. Olympia Snowe over a health care compromise that would phase in a government-funded health care alternative if private insurance companies fail to meet quality and cost benchmarks over a certain period of the time. The public discussion of the Snowe "compromise" is meant to test the reaction of House Democrats, who will pass a bill that includes an immediate public option added to a new health insurance exchange.  The White House hopes that, having voted for a public option, House Dems would accept a "trigger" as part of a conference committee compromise rather than putting the kibosh on the entire health care reform project.

Glenn Thrush has the same story over at Politico, suggesting that this float is really happening. That is to say it's happening again, because, as Ambinder notes further in his post in a portion not quoted above, the trigger has been floated before by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel as a possible compromise that could preserve some form of the public option so imperative to the left while gaining at least one or two Republican votes.

What do you think about a trigger?

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