Saturday Sports: Basketball? No... The House of Representatives.

OK... while many are watching the NCAA Basketball games, I'll be watching the big sports action of the weekend: The Health Care bill in the House of Representatives.

CSPAN is showing BOTH the debates in the House and the Reconciliation Bill debate in the House Rules Committee (on CSPAN 2). The major players will all be out there, making the points or stalling to try and get the bill bogged down. Whatever happens today will determine what gets voted on tomorrow.

There's more...

Stupak may yet bring down health insurance reform (updated)

Several undecided House Democrats came out in support of the health insurance bill today, but it's still not clear whether leaders have the 216 votes they need. Between six and twelve Democrats are in Bart Stupak's bloc, which will vote for the bill only if it severely restricts private insurance coverage for abortions. Chris Bowers thinks some "bullshit" compromise may peel away the few votes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi needs from the Stupak bloc, but a more disturbing possibility is taking shape.

Stupak is demanding that his amendment be voted on later as an "enrollment corrections" bill. The parliamentary procedure here is complicated, so I ask you to read David Waldman or David Dayen for an explanation.

Pro-Choice Caucus co-leader Diana DeGette claims that 40 to 555 House Democrats may not vote for the final deal if it includes a promise to enact the Stupak language separately. I assume most of those would cave, but if even five or ten stood their ground, they would cancel out the Stupak bloc members.

Given how much Democrats rely on women voters to win elections, it's amazing that they would sell out abortion rights to appease a few anti-choicers. Although the Catholic Bishops have opposed the health insurance reform bill, a major Catholic newspaper as well as groups representing Catholic hospitals and nuns are supporting it. Then again, after abandoning other core Democratic positions on health care reform (like letting Medicare negotiate for lower drug prices), what's another kick in the teeth for the base?

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offers what sounds to me like false hope of a separate vote on a public health insurance option. Such a vote would have to be attached to a budget reconciliation bill in order to have any hope of passing the Senate.

As far as I know, the dispute over Medicare reimbursement rates has not been resolved yet. Peter DeFazio has threatened to vote no if geographical disparities in Medicare payments are not corrected, and today Representative Bruce Braley's spokeswoman told me that he is undecided on the bill, in part because of that issue. Other House Democrats have also expressed concern, according to the Huffington Post. I doubt Braley will end up voting against health insurance reform, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Pelosi negotiate language on Medicare reimbursement rates that's closer to the House bill.

UPDATE: Stupak was supposed to hold a press conference Saturday morning at 11, but that was cancelled. I assume that means he and Pelosi don't have a deal yet, but who knows?

Health insurance reform whip count thread

Sunday's House vote on health insurance reform still looks like a nail-biter, though some would argue that the question isn't whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi will find 216 votes, but which Democrats in tough districts will be allowed to vote no.

Various whip counts are floating around the internet. Take your pick from David Dayen's version at FireDogLake, the Chris Bowers tally at Open Left, or the latest from The Hill staff.

Here's some recent news: Peter DeFazio (OR-04) is now threatening to vote no because yesterday leaders stripped out language on correcting geographical disparities in Medicare spending. Stupak bloc member Marcy Kaptur (OH-09) is now leaning toward "yes." John Boccieri (OH-16), who voted against health care reform in November, is switching to "yes." Dina Titus (NV-03) also confirmed today that she will vote yes.

This thread is for any comments related to Sunday's vote. I will update later if more Democrats on the fence announce their positions.

Weekly Pulse: Pelosi Makes Her Move; Republican Rep. Calls for Coup

By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has laid out a strategy to pass health care reform in the next couple of days by allowing the House to vote on the details of the reconciliation package instead of the Senate bill itself. As usual, progressives are fretting that winning will make them look bad. On the other hand, conservatives are baying for blood and calling for revolution.

‘Deem and pass’

Nick Baumann of Mother Jones discusses the parliamentary tactic known as “deem and pass” (D&P), which House Democrats plan to use to avoid voting for the Senate bill before the Senate fixes the bill through reconciliation. The House doesn’t want to sign a blank check. If the health care bill passes the House first, there’s no guarantee that the Senate will make the fixes as promised.

Originally, the hope was that the Senate could do reconciliation first. The problem is that you can’t pass a bill to amend a bill that isn’t law yet. That would be like putting the cart before the horse. To clear that hurdle, the House will invoke a rule that deems that Senate bill to have passed if and when the House passes the reconciliation package.  It’s sort of like backdating a check. Ryan Grim explains the process in more detail on Democracy Now!

D&P does not equal treason

Progressives like Kevin Drum worry that D&P will make the Democrats look bad. Meanwhile, the Tea Party crowd is calling for Nancy Pelosi to be tried for treason, as TPM reports. The bottom line is that D&P is no big deal. Republicans used the process 36 times in 2005 and 2006; Democrats used it 49 times in 2007 and 2008. D&P is constitutional. We know because it has already been upheld by the Supreme Court. Kevin Drum writes, “If you have a life, you don’t care about the subject of this post and have never heard of it.”

Teabag revolution

There is no joy in Tea Party Land, as Dave Weigel reports in the Washington Independent. The tea baggers are frantically lobbying to stop the bill, but the reality is starting to sink in. Their leaders are shifting from trying to kill the bill to planning the tantrum they’re going to throw when it passes:

While many held out hope that plans to pass the Senate’s version of reform in the House would stall out, others pondered their next steps. Some, like Rep. Steve King (R-IA), took a dark view of what might come.

“Right now, they’re civil, because they think they have a chance of stopping this bill,” said King to reporters, waving his arm at a pack of “People’s Surge” activists forming a line to enter the Cannon House Office Building. “The reason we don’t have violence in this country like they do in dictatorships is because we have votes, and our leaders listen to their constituents. Now we’re in a situation where the leaders are defying the people!” Later, King would expand on those remarks and speculate on a possible anti-Washington revolt in which Tea Parties would “fill the streets” of the capital.

Sounds like King is calling for a revolution, doesn’t it? As it turns out, that’s exactly what he says he wants if health care reform passes. Eric Kleefeld of TPMDC reports that King is hoping for something akin to the uprising that overthrew the Communists in Prague in 1989. “Fill this city up, fill this city, jam this place full so that they can’t get in, they can’t get out and they will have to capitulate to the will of the American people,” King said in an interview with the Huffington Post.

Women and health care reform

Health care reform seems poised to pass. Amid the heady excitement, there’s a sense of gloom in the reproductive rights community. Bart Stupak was defeated, but health care reform will probably end private insurance coverage for abortion.

In The American Prospect, Michelle Goldberg urges feminists to support reform anyway. She argues that the women suffer disproportionately under the status quo. If reform passes, it will insure 17 million previously uninsured women. Expanding health care coverage might help reverse rising maternal mortality rates in the United States.

A recent report by Amnesty International found that at least two women die in childbirth every day in the U.S., a much higher rate than most developed countries. The anti-choicers had the advantage because they were willing to kill health reform over abortion. The pro-choice faction did not allow itself the luxury of nihilism.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.



Stupak Caucus Folding?

So reports The Hill:

Democratic leaders have been able to pick off members of the anti-abortion-rights bloc Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) claimed to have, the congressman said Friday.


[T]he Michigan Democrat, who claimed he had carried with him a dozen votes against the healthcare bill, suggested that his bloc of votes may be cracking, providing Democratic leaders with valuable votes for their pending healthcare measures.

"At this point, there is no doubt that they’ve been able to peel off one or two of my twelve," he said. "The others are having both of their arms twisted, and we’re all getting pounded by our traditional Democratic supporters, like unions.”

Nancy Pelosi may yet be able to attract the 216 votes necessary to pass healthcare reform through the House and send it along to the President. The 30 million Americans without coverage today who would have health insurance as a result of this legislation -- including the 15 million who will be added to the rolls of government plans like Medicaid and CHIP -- may actually be on track to leave the ranks of the uninsured.


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