Wednesday's headline in the Politico Vote by Christmas in peril might have been just a tad premature, but Thursday's development of a "NO" vote on the current bill from Nebraska Democrat Sen. Ben Nelson means that Harry Reid still doesn't have the 60 votes he needs to advance the bill. Sen. Nelson refuses to budge on the issue of abortion and other fiscal concerns and it's unclear whether bribes and threats coming from Reid and Obama will sway him. Combine that with a mutiny by the whacko left and unions and it would appear the effort to advance the bill is in for more rough sailing.
Health deadline obstacles pile upOne cautionary note on the mutiny and objections from wavering Democrat senators: GOP Pollster Whit Ayres correctly describes much of this as "more bark than bite at this point." The fear is that some Dems may vote to end the filibuster and let the bill go to a final vote where only a simple majority is required for passage. They might then vote "NO" on the final bill which would still have the votes needed to pass. This would be similar to John Kerry's famous "I voted for the bill before I voted against it."
By: Carrie Budoff Brown and Meredith Shiner
December 17, 2009
...The net effect was the loss of any sense of inevitability surrounding the passage of health care legislation by the end of the year as Reid struggled to keep it on track.
"If we are going to get a bill out of the Senate, which will be very close to getting a bill enacted, we have to do it in 2009," said Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), who is working on the abortion compromise with Nelson. "Some might not think so, but what I would worry about is losing momentum."
"We're down to 48 to 72 hours," he said at 2 p.m. Thursday.
Reid needs a commitment - privately or publicly - from Nelson and other undecided senators by Saturday night, which is the drop-dead time at which the majority leader must begin the procedural steps necessary to finish the bill by Christmas Eve. The current timeline would have the Senate taking a series of votes: at 1 a.m. Monday, 7 a.m. Tuesday, 1 p.m. Wednesday and 7 p.m. Christmas Eve.
Meanwhile, on the GOP side of the aisle SC Sen. Jim DeMint is inviting readers to sign the petition at his campaign web site demanding that the Senate read the entire bill. [Note: if you do leave your email address you may be getting quite a few fundraising appeals from DeMint]. Thursday, DeMint vowed to use every procedural tool to slow down this bill. He will refuse to give back any time for debate and may demand that the entire bill or amendments be read on the senate floor.
That reading is made all the more necessary because at this point, no one but a handful of senators has actually seen the bill that will be brought to a vote. The Senate GOP prepared a series of quotes by Democrats admitting they did not know what they would be voting on. GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell smacked that theme hard in this statement Thursday:
Sen. McConnell was equally outraged by the Dem's blatant rewrite of Senate rules which occurred on Wednesday preventing the full reading of the Amendment by Sen. Sanders (Socialist-VT). His speech on the Senate floor decrying that shocking episode is here.
Completely Reckless, Completely Irresponsible
from the Office of Senator Mitch McConnell
Thursday, December 17, 2009
‘And here’s the most outrageous part: at the end of this rush, they want us to vote on a bill that no one outside the Majority Leader’s conference room has even seen. That’s right. The final bill we’ll vote on isn’t even the one we’ve had on the floor. It’s the deal Democrat leaders have been trying to work out in private’
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor Thursday regarding the importance of getting it right on health care reform:
“Senators on both sides acknowledge that the health care bill we’re considering is among the most significant pieces of legislation any of us will ever consider.
“So it stands to reason that we’d devote significant time and attention to it.
“Indeed, some would argue that we should spend more time and attention on this bill than most — if not every — previous bill we’ve considered.
“The Majority disagrees.
“Why? Because this bill has become a political nightmare for them.
“They know Americans overwhelmingly oppose it, so they want to get it over with.
Read Sen. McConnell's entire statement here.
There is unanimity across the GOP Senate caucus in opposition to a rush to vote on this bill. Lo and behold, even Olympia Snowe (R-ME) is on record suggesting that there is no good reason to rush to vote.
The next two days will be crucial. Stay tuned!
If you haven't had a chance to vote on the question: "Are you reasonably satisfied with the job Senate Republicans are doing to stop ObamaCare?" please do so now.