On the Future of the Healthcare Bill.

Monday morning at midnight (central time, that is) the Senate took the first of three votes for cloture. The vote, naturally, was split along party lines, with the two Independents voting with the Democrats. Since the Senate has its sixty votes, any hopes of stopping the bill before it exits the Senate are essentially squashed. The next place at which we may hope to see the bill thwarted is in committee.

The House and Senate must pass the same bill, as you learned in high school Government class. When they two bills go to committee, they must be combined. The good news is that the abortion language is quite different in the two bills, and the Senate bill is missing the public option and the Medicare buy-in. If the bill is treated as a policy bill, as it has been up until this point, it is possible that too much change could lose Lieberman’s vote in the Senate, bringing them down to only 59 votes for cloture, which allows the Republicans to continue their filibuster.

The Democrats do have another option. I honestly do not think they would sink this low, but my father does not share my faith in our nation’s legislators. If they were to attempt to treat the healthcare bill as a bill regarding fiscal policy, they could reconcile the two bills, and since reconciliation does not allow debate on the floor, only 51 votes are needed to pass the bill, which would actually leave the Senate with excess “yea” votes.

I don’t think that they will do this. Not because I believe that we have elected upstanding Democrats who only vote as their constituents would like, but because it would be political suicide. Ramming this bill down the throats of American voters like that would give Republican challengers endless amounts of campaign commercial fodder in 2010.

Of course, the Democrats may very well follow that course if they feel as if they can’t bribe any more “yea” votes as the bill nears completion. Obama seems to be feeling rather antsy about his decided lack of action in 2009.

On an unrelated note, I probably will not post again until after Christmas. Until then, Happy/Merry/Jolly/Joyous whatever you celebrate.

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