Senate Passes Health Care Reform Bill

As expected after the Republicans gave up on delaying the vote until the last possible moment, the Senate passed their health care reform bill early this morning. This was the first time the Senate has been in session on Christmas Eve since 1963.

It is hard to get too excited about this event considering the serious problems in the Senate bill. The question now is whether a better bill can be produced during reconciliation with the far superior House bill. While groups such as the American Medical Association and AARP were pushing for passage of the Senate bill, I suspect that they supported it with such hopes. As bad as the Senate bill is, the status quo is worse . This will at least ensure that the private insurance market survives, enabling those who do not receive coverage from employers to continue to have access to health care coverage.

While they are being vague as to the details, it sounds like the next step will be for Congressional leaders to work along with increased input form President Obama to write a bill which can pass both houses while improving upon the Senate bill. The question is whether they can succeed in writing a better bill which can still receive sixty votes in the Senate. While I previously believed they would attempt to pass a final bill before the State of the Union address,  it is now expected that this will take until later in January or early Feburary to allow Congress to work on a jobs bill first.

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2 Comments

  1. 1
    Infidel753 says:

    Everyone seems to agree that the Senate bill is worse than the House bill, due to the need to appease obstructionists to get to 60 votes.

    I’d be curious to know what you think of Tom Harkin’s idea of changing the Senate rules so that the 60-vote threshold no longer applies.  It seems to me that every major piece of legislation that comes along will be subject to the same kind of sabotage unless that’s done.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/12/21/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry6006305.shtml

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    I’m undecided as to the rule. Frequently it is a good thing to make it difficult to pass legislation. If we had a responsible opposition party, rather than one which votes no in an attempt to achieve political gains as opposed to concern for the country, then there would be value in limiting major changes to those which were overwhelmingly supported in Congress.

    If the decision on this was up to me  I would like to closely study what has been blocked by the filibuster which would have passed if only a simple majority was needed. Health care is a clear case where the filibuster was a negative but overall I’m not sure if this has blocked more good vs. bad legislation.

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