Dems still counting votes as showdown on health bill only hours away | Health care debate
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Health care debate

Dems still counting votes as showdown on health bill only hours away

New York Times reports: "With the stage set for a historic showdown over landmark health legislation in the House on Sunday afternoon, the White House and Democratic Congressional leaders narrowed their hunt for votes to a slim list of lawmakers, including several opponents of abortion who were demanding assurance that no federal money would be used to pay for insurance coverage of the procedure. . .  Even on Sunday morning, the vote was clearly too close to call. Rep. John Larson, the chairman of the Democratic caucus, told ABC’s 'This Week' program that the votes were in hand. 'We have the votes now — as we speak,' he said. But at the same time, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the deputy Democratic House whip, told 'Fox News Sunday' that the Democrats 'don’t have a hard 216 right now'" (Herszenhorn and Pear, 3/21).

USA Today: House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said that if the bill passes it "would drive up health care costs, and lead to big GOP victories in the November congressional elections. 'We are going to use every means at our disposal to oppose this government takeover of health care,' said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., chairman of the House Republican Conference, on CNN's State of the Union” (Jackson, 3/21).

In another story, the New York Times reports: "At a moment when Congress is engaged in a crucial debate about overhauling the health care system, the talk from Washington is about self-executing rules, deem and pass, reconciliation, the Slaughter Rule, preliminary C.B.O. scores, final C.B.O. scores — not to mention filibusters, cloture votes, the Byrd Bath and supermajorities. . . . [T]his yearlong debate may test the proposition that no one outside this city cares how the sausage is made. Indeed, as the midterm elections approach, Republicans are betting that process matters. A central part of their strategy has been to tangle the legislative works, resulting in both sides’ resorting to the most arcane legislative maneuvers, displaying sausage-making at its grubbiest" (Nagourney, 3/19).

The Hill reports: "Rep. Marcy Kaptur will vote for healthcare reform legislation, she announced Sunday. Kaptur's vote is a big one for Democratic leaders. She had been a no vote because of language in the bill on abortion" (Fabian, 3/21).

In another story, The Hill explores negotiations between the White House and other abortion foes: "Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said Sunday morning that he is close to striking a deal with the Obama administration on abortion provisions. … The possible deal would focus on an executive order that would specify there would be no public funding for abortions in the healthcare bill" (Cusack, 3/21).

Congress Daily reports on Saturday's late night announcement from the House Rules Committee about how the debate would advance: "After a day-long debate and 80 votes to reject Republican amendments, the House Rules Committee tonight cleared the Senate-passed healthcare bill for consideration in the House Sunday under a closed rule allowing separate votes on the massive measure and a package of accompanying tweaks intended to smooth the way for House approval of the landmark measure. The rule calls for one hour of debate on the rule itself plus two hours on the healthcare legislation and the revisions. Altogether, seven votes would take place Sunday, including one on moving the previous motion for the rule, two on points of order expected to be raised against the healthcare plan and revisions package, and one on an expected motion to recommit the bills. No amendments would be considered" (Kivlan, 3/20).

NPR also looks at the schedule: "Democratic leaders will open the House floor in the early afternoon. Soon after, the House will debate the procedure they'll use to take up the health care bill. It won't be the so-called 'deem and pass' strategy Democrats contemplated — that idea was dropped Saturday after crushing pressure from Republicans and the public. Instead, the House will hold two hours of debate on the reconciliation bill — that's the package of changes Democrats want to attach to the Senate health care bill. Then, representatives will cast two separate votes — the first one on the reconciliation bill, the second on the Senate health care bill. That's the crib sheet. Remember, anything could change at any moment — a fact President Obama acknowledged Saturday" (Seabrook, 3/21).

Politico: "If Republicans take control of the House this fall, Minority Leader John Boehner said Sunday he'd work to repeal the health care bill that's heading to final congressional votes. 'If this bill passes, we will have an effort to repeal the bill, and we'll do it the same way that we approached health care on a step by step basis,' the Ohio congressman said in an advanced transcript of NBC’s 'Meet the Press.' 'I'd have a bill on the floor the first thing out, to eliminate the Medicare cuts, eliminate the tax increases, eliminate the mandate that every American has to buy health insurance and the employer mandate that's going to cover jobs'" (Sherman, 3/21).

In another posting, Politico reports: "The passage of health care reform will result in the 'Europeanization' of the United States, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Sunday. 'We’re coming to a Europeanization of America. And the American people feel it,' Hatch said on CNN’s 'State of the Union.' 'People come up to me from everywhere,' Hatch said, 'and say, "we can’t do this. We can’t afford this."'

"But Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) didn’t seem to mind the European comparison. 'The basics are that we pay a lot more than European nations do for health care, and they have far better performance,' Feinstein said"  (Javers, 3/21).

The Washington Post reports:  "Following reports yesterday that black and openly gay Democratic lawmakers were subjected to spitting and epithets from anti-health care reform protesters outside the Capitol, Republican leaders said Sunday that such incidents were 'isolated' and 'reprehensible.' . . . Michael Steele, the Republican National Committee's first black chairman, . . . added, 'we do not support that.' 'What you had out there yesterday were a handful of people who just got stupid and said some ignorant things,' Steele said" (DeLong, 3/21).

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent news service. It is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-care-policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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