The House of Representatives' passage of health care reform
was historic, but far from the end of the story. The Senate must still vote on
its own version of reform, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has
not released. The two bills would then be reconciled in a conference
committee before reform can become law. The Senate, crippled by
the need for any legislation to secure 60 votes so it can overcome a
filibuster, could be far more of a hurdle for Democrats than the House.
Here's what could happen next.
- What Senate Will Take Away Slate's Timothy Noah predicts
how the Senate's bill will differ. "The thing to worry about the House
health reform bill isn't what the Senate will add but what it will take
away," he writes. "[T]he public option is likely to be watered down
even more, assuming Reid
has the votes to keep it in the bill at all, which at the moment is
looking doubtful." Noah also thinks the "Cadillac Tax" will prevent the
"Millionaire's Tax." He concludes, "[M]ost parts of health care reform
that the Senate will now remove would
be better left intact. Let's hope something's still left when it's
- Reid Will Need Every Vote The Washington Post's Ezra Klein explains why passing reform will be so much tougher in the Senate. "Harry Reid's job will be harder. Health-care reform passed the House
with 50.5 percent of the vote. It will need 60 percent in the Senate.
Pelosi had the luxury of losing 40 Democrats. When it comes to beating
the filibuster, Reid probably won't be able to lose even one." Klein adds, "Whether or not you think Nancy Pelosi had a couple more votes in her
back pocket, it's pretty clear that she didn't have 41 more votes,
which is what she would've needed to pass health-care reform if the
House worked by the Senate's inane rules."
- Cause For Senate's Delay Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has
yet to release the Senate's version of health reform legislation,
despite persistent urgings from the White House. "The Senate has been
in a holding pattern on its overhaul, with Reid and other Democrats
saying Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates have been the
biggest holdup," Congressional Quarterly reports.
The CBO estimate will predict how much the legislation will cost and
how much revenue it will produce. "Reid sent legislative language,
along with several policy options, to CBO on Oct. 26. According to his
spokeswoman, those cost estimates have not been returned, holding up
Reid's ability to release the full bill."
- Conference Re-Vote Could Kill It Conservative blogger Ed Morrissey reminds us that, even if the Senate passes their version, that's not the end. "If that happens, a
conference committee will have to meet to produce another bill that
would then go for a full floor vote in each chamber. If abortion
funding makes its way back into the bill, or if mandates or taxes
increase, or if conscience protections get stripped, then all of the
hurdles that Pelosi barely cleared the first time return, and without
the ability to amend the bill (conference reports get straight
up-or-down votes without amendments in order to have both chambers pass
identical legislation for the President to sign)."
- Senate Filibuster Threat Rules All Matthew Yglesias is exasperated
with the Senate and its requirement that a bill must have 60 votes to
prevent a filibuster. "[I]n a unicameral
United States of America, we would now have passed both a comprehensive
health care reform bill and also the most important piece of
environmental legislation in the history of the world," he writes,
noting that the high benchmark in the Senate makes legislation
extremely cumbersome. "But think
back on this point the next time you hear someone say Obama is
struggling with his agenda because he's not centrist enough, or else
that Obama is struggling with his agenda because he's not left-wing
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