Wednesday, January 20, 2010

No shenanigans 

I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that there will be no shenanigans -- an attempted quick passage of a health care bill -- in Washington, D.C., in the aftermath of Scott Brown's victory.

Whether or not Brown is "certified" and seated this week or next month, there is at least one senator who will not move forward with his majority party to reconstruct a bill. Jim Webb (D-VA) does not sound as though he would vote for cloture at this point:
“In many ways the campaign in Massachusetts became a referendum not only on health care reform but also on the openness and integrity of our government process,” Mr. Webb said. “It is vital that we restore the respect of the American people in our system of government and in our leaders. To that end, I believe it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated.”
There is the scenario in which the Senate bill as it stands is swallowed whole by the House. Is there any possible way on God's green earth that there are 218 votes for that in the House? Rep. Weiner (D-NY) does not think so. Whatever Speaker Pelosi might offer or threaten, Democratic House Members are now more concerned with their constituents back home than they are frightened of the Speaker (and that is saying something).

There is probably a bipartisan bill to be had later in the year, and Members of Congress from both parties would do well to consider a bill that addresses portability and pre-existing conditions, tort reform, and broad coverage (of the currently uninsured, who still get treated at ERs, regardless). The Single Payer dream of the Progressive Caucus may have to wait another generation or so for another opportunity.

I'm reminded of a scene in a "West Wing" episode, when the president is considering calling a lame duck session of Congress to possibly ratify a test ban treaty. There is a PA senator (Marino) who has just lost his seat, principally because he favored the treaty, and has enough of a sense of honor (yes, it is fiction, it is TV) not to vote to ratify.

They voted me out, Toby. Largely based on my support of a comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Only because Mitchell painted another picture.

Well, that's not for me to say. And I'm going to choose not to assume that my constituents feel a certain way because they were duped.

Senator, nobody expects... you know... you're not expected to...

Nobody expects, nobody expects. Toby it seems to me that more and more we've come to expect less and less from each other. And I think that should change. I'm a senator for another 10 weeks and I'm going to chose to respect these people and what they want. You call a lame duck session now, and I've got to abstain.
Maybe someone should send Paul Kirk a DVD.


By Anonymous QuakerCat, at Wed Jan 20, 04:19:00 PM:

Escort great post. I often think of that episode and in particular quite a bit lately (just like you.) Actually, I often think of that show. Despite it's Democratic agenda, I never felt overly slighted and I was always happy to see their attempts at trying to provide the counter argument. In the end the Democratic side would win, but at least there was some substance in the debating process.  

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