Saturday, December 19, 2009

Saturday HealthCare Bill Update: Keeping Track of 60 Votes

Lieberman is out of town, reportedly in Connecticut to celebrate the Jewish sabbath and the last night of Hanukkah. So that means he won't be available for any vote on Saturday. Evidently he was assured that his vote wasn't needed to pass the Defense Appropriations bill, which means the Dems are relying on at least one Republican to vote with them so that they can put the appropriations bill behind them and get back to health care.

The Dems were able to pass cloture on the appropriations bill by 63-33; Sens. Collins and Snowe (the R-Maine hag twins) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas) voted yes with the Dems, but only when it was clear that the Dems had the 60 votes to pass cloture. It's sort of interesting to see the Senate at work. I happened to see this vote on CSPAN (at about 1 a.m. St. Louis time). The three women stood together talking at the front of the room, waiting for all of the Dems to vote. They finally voted Yes when they saw it didn't make any difference. So how will those three vote on the actual bill? If they were to vote No, then the Senate would have to wait for Lieberman to return to cast vote #60. It's all about playing for time.

While we're playing for time, here's something to listen to: Nice.

But let's assume Harry Reid is able to get one Republican to vote with him for the appropriations bill--which also assumes that all the other Democrats are available for the vote despite the snowstorm that hit Washington, D.C. last night, which to me seems like something of a stretch. That means they would move on to healthcrap. On Friday night, Reid said he intends to unveil final revisions to the health care bill on Saturday. Way to go, Harry. Breitbart reports that Reid is expressing "confidence" about passing the bill after daylong talks with Dem holdout Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Not that anyone is counting, but that must be about the 87th time that Reid has expressed confidence in passing the bill since about April.

Despite Reid's optimistic posturing, The Hill reports that Harry started the week four votes shy of the 60 he needs to move the bill forward--and he ended the week the same way. That's not progress, Harry.

Possible Holdouts:

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb). He wants language in the bill that will safeguard taxpayer dollars from paying for abortions. He's also concerned about the burden the bill will put on the states with additional Medicaid spending.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.). He's a liberal who often bucks his party. Evidently his vote isn't yet secure.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). He's not really an Independent--he's a Socialist. He's a passionate single-payer advocate. Now that single-payer is supposedly off the table (although who knows, since no one has seen the bill), Sanders' vote is anybody's guess. He didn't strike me as a team player when I was listening to him rail against the system when he withdrew his amendment.

Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.). This guy is a wild card. He's the one who was put into Obama's Senate seat. In the past, he's threatened to join a Republican filibuster if a public option wasn't part of the bill. He's on record as saying he doesn't support the bill. He doesn't strike me as someone who's going to stand in the way of Reid's bill--I think he's more mouth than action.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). She could give Reid the 60th vote if any of the Dems decide not to go along with the bill. Also count on Harry to scream "bipartisan" about healthcrap if she votes Yes. She says she's still a holdout, however, wanting to see the final bill before she decides (imagine that one) and wants to hear about a cost estimate. Evidently she's also insisting that the vote should take place after Christmas.

Stay tuned.

Update. Saturday morning. The Senate approved the Defense spending bill, 88-10. Sen. Feingold (D-Calif.) voted No, along with 9 Republicans. And Harry's Manager's Amendment is now being read on the Senate floor. I've looked at a copy of this thing--it's 383 pages and probably averages somewhere around 100 words to the page because of line spacing and large margins. So it's not going to take all that long for them to read it on the Senate floor. [Several websites keep repeating that it's going to take 9 hours to read. No it won't--it can't be taking more than a minute per page to read, and most pages probably take considerably less, so that would be somewhere between 3 and 6 hours, with 6 hours being an outside maximum. What's the point? This is a done deal. I'm feeling totally cynical and sickened by this whole process.

Here's a small example of what we're dealing with having this bill, that will take over one-sixth of the American economy, cobbled together as a manager's amendment:

Section 2715(a) of the Public Health Service Act, as added by section 1001(5) of this Act, is amended by striking "and providing to enrollees" and inserting "and providing to applicants, enrollees, and policyholders or certificate holders."

The entire amendment is like this. I wonder how many other acts and bills it refers to? So unless someone has a copy of the Public Health Service Act handy, for example, they can really have no idea what's going on with the health crap bill, even if they do read the thing. This is an absolute travesty. It ought to be illegal. The American people have been totally punked by this nasty little man, Harry Reid. NO ONE should vote for this piece of shit. You can find a downloaded version of the manager's amendment here.

Reports are that the CBO score for the bill will be released before noon.

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