Congressional Democrats are considering splitting health care reform into two bills, making it easier to pass, reports
the Wall Street Journal. The move may be what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's spokesman meant when he said
reform would be passed "by any legislative means necessary." Experts
are debating, is exploiting procedural rules exactly what's needed to
get the bill through, or is it not worth the risk?
- Dangerous Game The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder warned, "Rules and
precedents here are very complex." Outlining the complexities required
to split the bill and ways it could backfire, he said, "this
uncertainty makes Democrats a bit wary of using the process."
Conservative blogger Rick Moran warned this
would be "the 'Armageddon Option' because the aftermath will blow up
Washington like no other event in recent memory." Moran called the
strategy "unprecedented," a "clear abuse," and "dangerous territory for
the tradition-bound senate."
- Just Might Work The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn praised the strategy as "giving Democrats a way to enact legislation in case the GOP remains as obstructionist as it is now." He wrote, "Maybe the Democrats are ready to get tough after all." Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly expressed optimism about diving the bill into two parts. "The popular part would come to the floor, and probably overcome a
filibuster," he wrote. "The second part would be done through reconciliation, and
could pass with 51 votes."
- Probably a Bluff Joan Walsh of Salon was skeptical, writing, "I'll believe in Harry Reid's courage when I see it." Ambinder called
"the threat of reconciliation," which is a complex procedural move that
would be used to pass both bills, "very likely just that -- a threat."
Ambinder suggested the White House may be hesitant to run two bills.
"Keeping the good stuff in the bill makes it harder to vote against the
tougher-to-swallow stuff," he wrote.
- Freak Genius of the Blogosphere As if we needed it, the move is
further validation of Matthew Yglesias's disturbingly preternatural
ability to read Congress: He predicted this strategy two days ago.
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