Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will bring the Senate's just-unveiled health care bill to the floor
on Saturday to begin the debate. To do so, he must secure 60 votes just
to open formal debate, the first of several political challenges still
ahead for health care reform. We gauged evaluations of the Senate's
health care bill here
. But what political obstacles remain?
- Debate Will Likely Proceed The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen cites
Reid's apparent optimism. "[T]he leadership agreed to have the bill
publicly available for 72
hours before the first vote, and Saturday night at 8 p.m. will be
exactly 72 hours after the legislation (pdf) was posted online. [...]
If Harry Reid didn't think he could corral the
supermajority needed, he probably wouldn't have scheduled tomorrow
night's vote." But Benen is agog that this is even necessary. "It's
still astounding to me that three Senate Democrats are reluctant
to support a routine procedural measure that would simply allow the
chamber to talk about health care reform, and consider changes to the bill."
- $100M For One Vote ABC News's Jonathan Karl suspects
that a very specific, very expensive provision in the Senate bill is
meant to win the vote of moderate Democrat Mary Landrieu from
Louisiana. "On page 432 of the Reid bill, there is a section increasing
Medicaid subsidies for 'certain states recovering from a major
disaster,'" he writes. "Senator Harry Reid, who drafted the bill,
cannot pass it without the support of Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu."
- Filibuster Looms Large
If only a majority of 50 votes were required to pass health care
reform, it would already be sealed. But the threat of a filibuster
would require 60 votes to overcome, which means recruiting moderate
Democrats and Independents to the cause. It looks like Reid will secure
a filibuster-proof 60 votes to trigger the start of debate, but will
those same votes stick around when it comes time to pass the
legislation? Politico writes: "[R]eminders of how tough it will be to pass health reform in the end
popped up Thursday, as well, as a second member of the Democratic
Caucus — Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson — threatened to launch a filibuster
to block a final vote, if language restricting federal funds for
abortion was not strengthened. 'There are a lot of other things that could keep me from supporting it in the end,' Nelson said."
- The Reconciliation Battle Townhall's Dick Morris cautions
that, even if the Senate passes the bill, it will still have to be
reconciled with the House version and passed again. Could the political
tides turn against reform by then? "[I]t will hit a wall as the houses
try to reconcile their different
versions so as to satisfy the liberal House and Obama's base on the one
hand and the most conservative among the 60 Democratic senators on the
other. This debate will focus on such a broad range of issues and will
be so contentious that it is going to take a long time to resolve."
- Demonstrating Success in 2010 and 2012 The Washington Post's Ezra Klein anticipates
the electoral problems, asking rhetorically, "when Republicans are
saying that reform has done nothing despite the
fact that it hasn't yet gone into effect, what will Democrats be able
to brag about?" Klein lists 12 reforms that will go into effect
immediately, including the end of controversial insurance policies like
rescission and improved transparency of insurance plans. Klein notes,
"Given that we're all going to die when the earth consumes itself in
2012, the effectiveness of these policies takes on a new level of
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