CNSNews.com is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Harry is ‘likely’ to use a tax bill passed by the House in March as shell for enacting the Senate health care bill:
A senior aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told CNSNews.com that it is “likely” that Reid will use H.R. 1586—a bill passed by the House in March to impose a 90-percent tax on bonuses paid to employees of certain bailed-out financial institutions—as a “shell” for enacting the final version of the Senate’s health care bill, which Reid is responsible for crafting.
Under the procedure, the substance of House Resolution 1586 would be removed and replaced with the entire Senate health care package. The maneuver would initially require the support of 60 senators to vote for cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R. 1586 (i.e., end debate on the congressional procedure and move forward).
If Reid wins 60 votes, then debate begins on his health care package. Reid could then decide to block all amendments and attempt to get a vote on the entire package.
However, a senator could filibuster the final vote, requiring another 60-vote majority to move forward. But if Reid decides to allow any amendments, each amendment could be filibustered, requiring a 60-vote majority to move to a final vote on each of them. An amendment that has the support of more than 50 but less than 60 senators could end up stopping the bill if neither side backs down. But if Reid is able to structure the debate so that all 60 senators who caucus with the Democrats stick with the party on cloture votes, he can pass the bill and send it to back to the House–where it originated as an entirely different bill in substance.
This isn’t the only trick Harry Reid has up his sleeve the Washington Examiner is reporting that Sen. Reid is considering a using tactics that would allow Democrats to slip the public option back into the Senate health care reform bill:
Senate Democrats desperate to find a way to pass a health care bill that includes a federal insurance plan may have come up with a way to do it without putting moderate members who oppose it in political jeopardy.
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is weighing a plan to bring the final health care bill to the floor without a public option — making it much easier to get the 60 votes needed to prevent a Republican filibuster — and then adding the provision later as an amendment.
The public option amendment would be there waiting, but the 60-vote test would technically be on a bill without the government plan. Then moderate Democrats could drop out for the vote on the public option, which requires just 51 votes for passage.
“It’s brilliant,” said a top Senate Republican aide. “It gets you your votes on cloture for a package that does not include a public option.”
Reid has not revealed whether he will use this tactic, but he’s considering it.
“We haven’t made any decisions yet,” his spokesman, Jim Manley, said. “We have different options — that is one.”
I have to hand it to Harry Reid, even though he’s up for re-election next year and trailing all of his likely Republican challengers in the polls he’s not giving up on efforts to get the most radical agenda through the Senate.
Anyway, before any of this can happen the non-public option bill has to pass a filibuster. I’m not sure Democrats have the votes right now to cut off debate… Especially with this trick getting public attention. Even if the bill does pass the Senate I’m not sure it’ll get through the House.
In short the House would then have to approve the Senate bill outright rather then pass their own… All the Republicans would line up against it and House Democrats aren’t wild about some of the tax provisions of the Senate Finance Committee bill… 154 of them have sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging her “to reject proposals to enact an excise tax on high-cost insurance plans that could be potentially passed on to middle-class families.”
Bottom line, the next few weeks are going to be very interesting… I doubt Sen. Reid’s underhanded tactics will work but it shows how desperate Democrats are to placate the “progressive” wing of of their party.