Thursday, December 24, 2009

Senate Passes Health Reform, Now What Next?

The Senate passed its version of health reform this morning. One Democrat voted "No" and then changed his vote. The Democrat was Senator Harry Reid. The "No" vote was a mistake.

David Waldman at Daily Kos has a good article on what might happen next. Waldman outlines five possibilities:

  1. The House could agree to the Senate version. In that case, the deal is done.
  2. The House could amend the Senate version and send it back to the Senate with a request for a conference to work out the differences
  3. The House could amend the Senate version and send it back to the Senate with no comment. In that case the Senate must decide either to accept the House changes or request a conference.
  4. The House could simply disagree with the Senate version and request a conference.
  5. The House could do nothing, but instead begin informal negotiations to develop a package of amendments acceptable to a majority in the House and 60 Senators.
Numbers 2, 3, and 4 would likely mean that the Democrats in the Senate have to seek cloture on multiple procedural motions that Republicans are likely to offer. This could delay the process passing a final bill possibly until February and result in the Democrats not getting a bill to Obama prior to the State of the Union.

Number 1 & 5 are the quickest routes to getting a bill passed. Waldman says all signals appeared to be the House simply accepting the Senate bill. I don't think that will happen. However, informal negotiations (Number 5) are a real possibility and makes a lot of sense. The Wall Street Journal in a related article thinks Pelosi and Reid will use the informal negotiation route to get to a final bill.

We will see.

Also, CNN has a good article on the major differences between the House and Senate versions of health reform and possible outcomes of negotiations--public option, abortion and funding. Looks like the House has the weaker hand.

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