As White House predicts swift passage of health bill, Congress bogs down

While White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel declared that health care reform would clear Congress in the next two months, lawmakers in the House and Senate remained in gridlock over how to move legislation out of either chamber.

Emanuel told PBS's Charlie Rose that a health care bill “will be passed before the members go home for Thanksgiving,” and it will meld aspects of both the House and Senate proposals that are miles apart philosophically.

Even as Emanuel predicted timely cooperation, congressional Democrats closed doors leading to compromise and remained vague about when they would actually vote on a bill.

Asked on when the House would have a bill ready for a vote, Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded, “I don't know,” and said she was “completely and totally unfamiliar with” Emanuel's timetable.

And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., skipped his usual weekly meeting with reporters, who would have undoubtedly peppered him with questions about the timing of a health care bill in the Senate. Instead, Reid and other Senate Democratic leaders took to the chamber, immune from reporters' questions, and gave pro-reform health care speeches while the Senate Finance Committee continued plowing through a massive stack of amendments to its contentious health care bill that has detractors on both sides of the aisle.

“This is no time to let partisanship get the best of us,” Reid said in his speech, which was mostly an attack on Republican resistance to the Democrats' health care proposals.

Pelosi, meanwhile, met privately with House Democrats. Liberals in her caucus told her they were unwilling to back a health care plan that would impose a new federal health insurance program only if private insurers don't reduce costs, even though the Senate Democrats are weighing the idea as a way to draw in support from moderate members.

“The evidence seems to point, at this caucus that I just went to, that a trigger is an excuse for not doing anything,” Pelosi said.

For Pelosi, the biggest hurdle may be getting a bill that passes the House in any form. She has pledged that the bill will include a robust public insurance option, which will keep her 80-plus liberals happy. But moderate House Democrats, who are as numerous as liberals, are fearful that it will cost too much and put private insurers out of business.

Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Fla., who is head of the fiscally moderate House Democratic Blue Dog Coalition, said the group would be meeting with Pelosi in the coming days in an effort to make the bill more palatable to them.

But by conceding to the Blue Dogs, Pelosi risks losing enough liberals to block House passage.

Boyd said Pelosi will ultimately have to draft legislation that can draw in some House Republicans in order to come up with the 218 votes needed to pass a bill.

“I just don't know of any bill you can write and get 218 Democratic votes,” Boyd said.

sferrechio@washingtonexaminer.com

PoliticsUSwashington examiner

Just Posted

On Sunday, California bore the brunt of what meteorologists referred to as a bomb cyclone and an atmospheric river, a convergence of storms that brought more than half a foot of rain to parts of the Bay Area, along with high winds, concerns about flash floods and the potential for heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada. Much of the Bay Area was under a flash flood watch on Sunday, with the National Weather Service warning of the potential for mudslides across the region. (NOAA via The New York Times)
Bomb cyclone, atmospheric river combine to pummel California with rain and wind

What you need to know about this historic weather event

National Weather Service flood watch in the San Francisco Bay Area for Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. (National Weather Service via Bay City News)
Storm pounds Bay Area, leaving over 145,000 without power: Closures and updates

Torrential rainfall causes flooding, triggers evacuations in burn areas

Plan Bay Area 2050 is an expansive plan guiding the region’s growth and development over the next three decades. The regional plan addresses progressive policy priorities like a universal basic income and a region-wide rent cap, alongside massive new spending on affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. (Shutterstock)
Plan Bay Area 2050: Analyzing an extensive regional plan that covers the next 30 years

Here are the big ticket proposals in the $1.4 trillion proposal

A collaborative workspace for a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) in Coordinape is pictured at a recent blockchain meet up at Atlas Cafe. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Business without bosses: San Francisco innovators battle bureaucracy with blockchain

‘The next generation will work for three DAOs at the same time’

Most Read