Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Road Ahead in the Health Care Battle

Commentary from The American Spectator
Philip KleinBy Philip Klein on 11.21.09 @ 8:10PM (Philip Klein is The American Spectator's Washington correspondent.) While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has secured the needed 60 votes to bring his health care bill to the Senate floor after Thanksgiving recess, there's still a long road to go until President Obama can sign legislation into law. The optimistic take for Democrats today is obviously that health care legislation has cleared another hurdle. And it must be said that however many ups and downs there have been throughout the process, at each stage Democrats have found a way to move the ball down field. They managed to get bills out of committees, cobble together enough votes to get the bill passed in the House, and today, to get the bill to the Senate floor. Comprehensive health care legislation has never come this close to passing at any time in American history. Thus, there's good reason to believe that somehow the Democratic leadership, along with the White House, will be able to iron out their remaining differences, twist enough arms, and dole out enough goodies to get past the goal line. With that said, there are plenty of ways for everything to completely fall apart for Democrats in the coming weeks and months. Though Reid was able to unite his caucus for tonight's vote, at least two Senators -- Joe Lieberman and Blanche Lincoln -- have unequivocally said that they would block any bill that still included a government plan at the end of the upcoming amendment process. Sen. Mary Landrieu said that Reid wouldn't have 60 votes unless Democrats agree to weaken the government plan so that it is triggered if private insurers don't reach certain benchmarks. Sen. Ben Nelson has said he wants more restrictive abortion language in the bill. That doesn't include other Democratic Senators whose votes could be in doubt depending on how the amendment process goes. It's worth keeping in mind that once the bill reaches the floor, Reid will need 60 votes to make any changes. It's really difficult to see how there could be 60 votes in the Senate to go as far as the House did to ensure that no taxpayer money covers abortions. And it's also questionable whether there are 60 votes to remove (or at least weaken) the government plan. [CLICK HERE TO READ MORE]
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