WASHINGTON — The drive by House Democrats to pass major health care legislation gained momentum on Wednesday, as Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio, announced that he would support the bill after previously opposing it, and Representative Dale E. Kildee, Democrat of Michigan, said the abortion restrictions were sufficient to win his vote.
As Democrats expressed growing confidence, aides labored to finalize the legislative language and to meet the deficit reduction goals required in the expedited budget bill that they are using to pass final revisions to the health care measure.
Democrats had hoped to unveil the final text on Wednesday afternoon, setting up the possibility of a decisive vote on Saturday, but they said the Congressional Budget Office was still analyzing the cost of some provisions, delaying the release of the text.
Critics Challenge Legitimacy of Plan to Avoid Direct Vote on Health Care
From Maine to Hawaii, Americans send people to Washington, D.C., to be their representatives -- to cast votes that represent the will of the people who elected them to do the job.
But now, as the House of Representatives moves toward approving one of the most sweeping pieces of domestic legislation in U.S. history, critics are fuming that Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to usher through a health care bill . . . without a vote.
Pelosi, they say, is thumbing her nose at a cherished, basic principle of democracy for the sake of a legislative win.
House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence is calling the plan, which several Democratic leaders are defending, "a betrayal of the commitment of every member of this Congress to the American people."
And some say the move may not withstand a legal challenge.
An obscure parliamentary maneuver favored by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suddenly ignited Tuesday as the latest tinder in the year-long partisan strife over reshaping the nation's health-care system, triggering debate over the strategy's legitimacy and political wisdom.
Republicans condemned Pelosi's idea -- in which House members would make a final decision on broad health-care changes without voting directly on the Senate version of the bill -- as an abuse of the legislative process.
In district after district, GOP candidates have unleashed a barrage of press releases, emails, and ads criticizing the California congresswoman for her efforts and explicitly tying their Democratic opponents to her, often while avoiding mention of the president’s role altogether. While Obama’s work to advance health care legislation is also a target in some contests, it is Pelosi who is emerging as the face of health care reform in competitive races across the country.
The standard approach is to characterize vulnerable Democrats as Pelosi minions or close allies. A recent press release for Republican Jeff Reetz described Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) as “Pelosi’s Benchwarmer” while Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.) is said by Republican Frank Guinta to be “Pelosi’s strongest ally in the House.” In California, Republican Brad Goehring claims Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney “has voted in lockstep with Speaker Nancy Pelosi.”
Obama Tells Fox News 'Procedural' Spat Over Health Bill Vote Doesn't Worry Him
President Obama is not worried about the "procedural" debate over whether House Democratic leaders should go ahead with a plan to approve health care reform without a traditional vote, he told Fox News on Wednesday.
The president, in an interview with Fox News' Bret Baier, was responding for the first time to the controversy over a plan to use a parliamentary trick to allow the House to pass the Senate's health care bill without forcing members to vote for it directly. The esoteric procedure has drawn fierce protest from Republicans who say Democrats are trying to avoid accountability, but the president said there will be no doubt about where lawmakers stand on health care reform.
Health-care bill not yet a law, but Republicans already organizing to repeal it
By Perry Bacon Jr.
Can Republicans win election this fall by campaigning to repeal the health-care legislation now nearing passage in Congress?
Even as House Democrats search for the votes to send the bill to President Obama, dozens of Republican lawmakers and candidates have signed a pledge to back an effort to repeal the bill, should the GOP take control of either house of Congress after this fall's elections.
Started by the conservative activist group Club for Growth, the "Repeal It" movement first won the backing in January of some of the most conservative Republicans in Congress, such as "tea party" favorite Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). It has since expanded to include some of the party's Senate candidates in liberal-leaning states such as New Hampshire and Illinois.
Congressional Republicans are currently battling the Democrats over the House procedures they could use to pass the health-care bill. But they are promising this fall to continue the spirited debate over the substance of the bill that has dominated the last year on Capitol Hill.
Karl Rove: Repealing Obamacare Will Be Easier If Congress Skirts Normal Process
“Deeming” and “reconciliation” are hardly household words, but for the next week Americans will come to know them as key procedural maneuvers that could push Obamacare across the finish line. But while they might deliver a bill to President Obama’s desk, they will also make it easier to repeal the measure, says former White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove.On the road for his “Courage and Consequence” book tour, Rove chatted with The Heritage Foundation about Obamacare, his defense of President George W. Bush’s conservatism, the growth of Tea Parties and anger toward government spending.
Citing an assertion from Rules Committee ranking member David Dreier (Calif.) that "a vote for the rule is a vote for the Senate bill," the group wrote: "We believe it is accurate to state in public communications that the effect of a vote for any rule illustrated in [Dreier's memo] is a vote for the Senate bill and all of its provisions." Put simply: Republicans believe that House Democrats using the "deem and pass" maneuver in no way prohibits GOP candidates and party committees from attacking them for "voting" for the Senate legislation.
[U]nder the Senate plan, millions of Americans will be forced into private insurance company plans, which will be subsidized by taxpayers. That alternative will do almost nothing to reform health care but will be a windfall for insurance companies. … Supporters of the weak Senate bill say “just pass it — any bill is better than no bill.”
I strongly disagree — a conference report is unlikely to sufficiently bridge the gap between these two very different bills. It’s time that we draw the line on this weak bill and ask the Senate to go back to the drawing board. The American people deserve at least that.
Richard Cohen: "This is a week for the history books, one way or another. The participants understand that, which helps to explain the intensity of the procedural maneuverings. But some are disinclined to focus on the broad impact, if only because they are too anxious to consider the ramifications if their side fails."
"It's no coincidence that GOPers recently have raised other controversial internal issues such as earmark reforms and ethical challenges that create additional tensions among Dems. The GOP goal has been to maximize the pain leading to the health reform vote."
"A senior Dem leadership aide this week agreed that the stakes are high, and voiced confidence about victory. If he is right, the Dems' deep sigh of relief would be almost as loud as their cheers. If he is wrong, the consequences for Pelosi and the Dem Caucus likely would be cataclysmic."
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