Senate Bill Going Back to the House – Can We Now Get a Public Option Vote?

Let’s take Sen. Michael Bennet and some Colorado progressive groups at their word when they say the only reason they have previously opposed offering a public-option amendment to the Senate reconciliation bill is because if it passes, the bill would then have to be sent back to the House. They say that having to send it back to the House would “complicate” matters (which doesn’t make much sense to me, considering the House is controlled by Democrats, and the House has already passed the public option…but I digress).

So fine – let’s just for a moment take Bennet at his word that he’s not trying to defend the insurance industry and take some Colorado progressive groups at their word that they aren’t simply bowing down to their Democratic bosses and their Big Donors.

OK – so what about now?

Byrd Rule To Send Senate Health Care Bill Back To House

Senate Republicans succeeded early Thursday morning in finding two flaws in the House-passed health care reconciliation package…the upshot is that Republicans will succeed in at least slightly altering the legislation, which means that the House is once again required to vote on it.

The ruling might give Democrats another option — the public one.

Democratic leadership no longer has to worry that additional amendments would send it back to the House, since it must return to the lower chamber regardless. The Senate is now free to put to the test that much-debated question of whether 50 votes exist for a public option. Democrats could also elect to expand Medicare or Medicaid, now that they only need 50 votes in the Senate and the approval of the House.

The question then becomes whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) could pass the reconciliation changes with a public option. She has long maintained that the House has the votes to do so. Indeed, it did so in late 2009…

The Huffington Post interviewed House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) on Wednesday evening and asked if he thought he could have gotten the public option back through a second time, when the House voted on Sunday, even without those members who had left. “Yes, sir,” he said emphatically. Clyburn added that the problem for the public option has never been in the House. The problem has been in the Senate. And now the upper chamber has a chance to vote on it. (emphasis added)

So the bill is going back to the House anyway, the Senate still has time to amend the bill with a public option, and the top House Democratic leaders are on the record saying they could pass the public option. Additionally, the New York Times notes that “the parliamentary process playing out on the Senate floor gives (Democrats) a rare chance to enact (the public option) with a simple majority, a chance unlikely to come around again soon.” (this latter point is a key one for the “let’s wait for a standalone bill later” crowd – I’ll repeat what the Times reports: the specific chance we have right now is “a chance unlikely to come around again soon.”)

So I ask what we asked yesterday at our rally at Sen. Bennet’s office: Will our senator now fulfill his promise to push a public option using reconciliation?

Or are we going to get yet another ridiculous excuse?

10 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. bullshit!bullshit! says:

    These are very minor problems identified in reconciliation thus far, and don’t really change the bill enough to force legislators to rethink it. The House can still pass the fix bill quickly.

    The problem, as it has been explained to me, is that there are estimated to be 52 Senators voting yes on this bill, including several who have publicly stated their opposition to a public option. Lose them, lose the bill.

    The situation is little better in the House, where the bill passed by a very small margin. Some day certain legislators were given a pass to vote against, but even factoring that unknown number it was still extremely close. A major change, like re-adding the public option, would throw that vote tally into chaos.

    There is also the argument that making such a major change in the reconciliation process would be exploited by the right, further damaging this long effort in terms of public perception. I realize that is not your main concern, David, but you should understand what that is important to a lot of Democrats. Unlike some people here I respect what you’re trying to do, and I think your intentions are honorable, but the situation is what it is, and Bennet isn’t to blame for that.

    • bullshit!bullshit! says:

      Teach me to use the passive voice.

    • bullshit!bullshit! says:

      I have to take back some of my expressions of respect. David, what you did on the radio this morning was character assassination, plain and simple. I can’t believe that you focused only on one group, indeed the leader of one group, when the letter they delivered was signed by a coalition of health care, labor, and progressive groups. Why did you only want to talk about Progress Now? Why didn’t you mention to your listeners that Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, Colorado Center on Law and Policy, Public Interest Research Group, AFL-CIO, AEIU, HCAN, and even Moveon.org all signed that letter?

      You are deceiving your radio audience to build up a straw man you can demagogue, and that is something I normally associate with Republicans. I am very, very disappointed in you, and I no longer hold your motivations above reproach.

  2. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    for a second bill that is nothing but the public option? Lets get this one through, where we have these incredibly slim majorities, and get it passed. What’s in this bill is important, as much for the political as the policy reasons.

    But once it has passed, then I’m all in favor of a bill that is the public option – let every rep & senator take an up or down vote on it.

    • peacemonger says:

      Then, David Sirota will not make good on his promise to pal Romanoff to help him puff up his shirt to say, “I did this. I made the entire House quake beneath my threats.” Romanoff is pulling a “My truck is bigger than your truck” here and Sirota is trying to help.  

  3. MADCO says:

    Now the House can amend it and add the public option.

    Then when it passes the House, the Senate gets their up or down opportunity.  What’s that – it won’t pass the House?  But,, but , David Sirota and Andrew Romanoff and Jane Hamsher want it to.

    DAvid- you left out a key piece :

    … reason they have previously opposed offering a public-option amendment to the Senate reconciliation bill is because if it passes, the bill would then have to be sent back to the House.    where it might not pass. In fact, Speaker Pelosi didn’t think she had the votes last week – what’s changed?

    Go back to “kill the bill and start over” it’s easier to understand.

  4. NeonNurseNeonNurse says:

    Here is the money shot:

    “…the Senate completed nine hours of uninterrupted voting on 29 GOP amendments to the legislation. Majority Democrats defeated every amendment.”

    Nine hours.  The Dems voting as a bloc 29 times to squelch every single amendment, knowing it was important to pass it right here right now, since sending ANY revised version back to the House could be a death sentence for the whole thing.

    They are already taking flak on it from the GOP fundraising machine too, which is using the scheme of ignoring WHY they voted down the amendments to carp at them for NOT adding things they would normally support. (Hmmm, why does that sound weirdly familiar?)

    Your fans, and Speaker Romanoff’s supporters insist you are both very smart guys, and I’m sure it’s true.

    But I have trouble believing you are smarter than 59 Democratic Senators all together.

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