Monday, January 4, 2010

How health reform may get done

David Dayen at FireDogLake says Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee was on his way back to Washington today to begin discussions with the Senate and White House on how to reconcile the House and Senate health bills even though the House will not return to session until January 12th. Waxman may have provided a clue concerning how the two bills will be reconciled. Waxman said this will not be a normal conference since conferees in the Senate "would need 60 votes all over again" just to select and instruct conferees.

In a previous post, I listed several ways the Democrats could go about reconciling the House and Senate health bills one of which was to reach an informal agreement among themselves for amendments to the Senate bill that could be approved by a majority of Democrats in the House and 60 Democrat/Independent votes in the Senate without ever going to a formal conference. Looks like Waxman is suggesting that is exactly what will happen.

If the Democrats skip a formal conference, No/Nothing Republicans are likely to cry foul but who cares. The No/Nothings would just use a formal conference to delay passage. With an informal agreement and not having to fight multiple 60 votes delaying delaying motions, the Democrats may be able to get a health reform bill on the President's desk for signature by the end of January or early February in time for the State-of-the-Union address.

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