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Scheherazade On December - 24 - 2009

WASHINGTON DC — On a cold Christmas Eve morning the United States Senate met for one last vote on H.R. 3590. With Vice President Joe Biden presiding the voting concluded with a 60-39 party-line vote. The vote follows 25 days of debate and negotiation.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) offered their final thoughts before the voting began.

Senator Reid offered gracious words of thanks and recognition for those who had put in so much work over the past several weeks. He mentioned many of the unsung heroes of the legislative process and the many “parlimentarians” who put in such long hours as well.

Senator McConnell offered the same gestures and tokens of kindness, but he then began with rhetoric that has become all too familiar since the summer months.

“Instead [of reforming health care] we’re left with a party-line vote… and a truly outraged public.” McConnell went on to declare that “the people who vote for it will get an earfull” from the public after they return home for the holidays. “It isn’t over.”

Senator Reid responded by saying health care reform is a “process,” and addressed the idea of getting an “earfull” by mentioning the story of a child that has been turned down for coverage saying that the “earfull” he would get would be one of thanks from people such as that child and his family. Reid echoed McConnell’s sentiments in a more hopeful fashion saying “[t]his is only the beginning.”

Reid went on to reference the CBO’s report that shows the deficit will be reduced as a result of this bill. “How long can we afford to put this off” he asked.

As Senator Reid continued he spoke more passionately about the bill quoting the late Senator Kennedy, President Harry Truman, and the founding fathers. He claimed the bill would help this country as we “move towards a more perfect union.” He continually stressed that the bill is about “progress and opportunity” and used that theme as a way to address the concerns of progressives who have spoken out in opposition to the bill.

Reid used assertive language when referring to the Republicans. The Nevada senator said that this is the first time in our nation’s history that a party put politics before their country – a possible dig at Senator John McCain (R-AZ) who’s 2008 campaign slogan was “country first.” Reid said the Republicans continued to use “myth and misinformation” even when those fictions have been debunked and proven untrue.

However, it must be said that even moderate Republicans such as Olympia Snowe (R-ME) have expressed disapproval of the rushed way in which the bill was passed.

“I was extremely disappointed,’’ Snowe said. “[T]here was zero opportunity to amend the bill or modify it, and Democrats had no incentive to reach across the aisle.’’

From here the bill will be sent to a committee in the hopes of reconciling the two bills. However, this may prove to be a more difficult matter than was originally thought. Several House Democrats have expressed their discontentment with the “Nelson compromise.”

Concerns that were raised about the Stupak/Pitts Amendment are being raised about the way in which abortion is being handled in the senate compromise.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter wrote an op-ed for CNN in which she expressed her feeling that the current bill should be scrapped and the process start over again.

Should the bill become law it will be the first time since the creation of Medicare in 1965 that legislation of its kind has been passed.

13 Responses so far.

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  1. nellie says:

    Olympia Snowe just lost all her credbility. She sat on the Finance Committee. When Republicans say they haven’t been given a chance to participate — when it’s the very extension of that courtesy putting our legislation at risk — it’s just galling. It’s very Rovian. I wonder if he’s behind the scenes coaching them on this infuriating brand of lying.

    Another great job of reporting, Scher. Thank you.

  2. Scheherazade says:

    From Talking Points Memo:

    They’re Done! (Almost)--What Happens Now That The Senate Has Passed Health Care Reform

    The hard part is over. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid kept his caucus aligned all the way to the final vote. He could have afforded to lose several liberal or conservative members, upset about the concessions they’ve had to make over the last several weeks, but none of them defected.

    Now he’ll need them to stay united for several more weeks.

    According to Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Senate health care principals (including himself) and their counterparts in the House will begin working with Democratic leaders and White House officials next week to marry the two chambers’ bills. During that process, they’ll have to be mindful of just how fragile the coalition in the Senate is, and will likely make no dramatic changes to the legislation that passed this morning.

    That means the House will face a vote on a final bill that’s likely to be less progressive in a number of ways than the package they passed in November. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is already fielding defection threats from a number of high-profile progressives in her caucus. And given that the first bill passed by an extremely slim margin, for almost every “yes” in her caucus who becomes a “no,” she’ll have to find a “no” vote, and turn it into a “yes.”

    That’s a precarious balance, and we’ll be tracking the Democrats as they try to strike it.

  3. Marion says:

    Because I live in the UK (for my sins, having married a Brit), it was just after noon, when I got the news. I must admit, I do feel more than just a bit detached from the reality that is the States, living abroad); so I rely on the Internet and logged onto MSNBC to catch the video clip details.

    Look, I know it’s not the perfect bill, but it’s a start and it’s further than we’ve ever got with this before. I think, in years to come, like Social Security, it may become a Third Rail, unrecognisable in the form it now encompasses.

    I say, this is great, and just the shot in the arm (pun intended) for the President, as there seem to be some on both sides of the political coin, intent on making him Public Enemy Number 1. Now the real fun begins with reconciliation.

  4. Scheherazade says:

    I have to confess that after reading the article a second time it would look as though I just wanted to go on and on about Reid. The problem was McConnell didn’t say much. 😐

    • Marion says:

      I think Harry Reid’s come out of this one with his reputation enhanced. He has a mild-mannered demeanor (much like Obama’s), but sometimes that can belie a steel interior. I’m reading Laura Flanders’s book, Blue Grit, and apparently, Reid’s somewhat of a speak-softly-carry-a-big-stick hardass in Nevada.

      • escribacat says:

        I agree. I don’t understand why Reid takes such a beating. He had a Sisyphean job that has seemed impossible more than a few times during this process. I am very anxious to find out the real numbers that come out of the final bill.

      • Khirad says:

        I’ve often been a lone defender of him. I think Nate Silver and especially Lawrence O’Donnell’s defense of him have also been a long time coming. It could be that I take it somewhat personally, though, as I share many of his same lugubrious, shrinking from the lime-light personality traits. And while this may be totally irrelevant to his leadership capabilities, he, with Lincoln have my added admiration for getting to where they got while battling with the melancholia, as it were.

        I think we get so caught up with him in front of the camera, we forget the arcane procedures he would pull as minority leader and that where it really matters is often in the proverbial cloak room -- though I’m not saying it wouldn’t have been nice to have a gregarious Ted Kennedy on the floor passionately arguing his case. However; these things are often about as much to do with lofty, even brilliant rhetoric, as good old fashioned “West Wing” wheeling and dealing and trading of votes (I know, I’m like totally aghast it happens in Obama’s America, I thought there would be “change” says the the fairweather progressive and right-wing disingenuous snarkster). From what I hear, and O’Donnell, if I could find the clip, did a superb job (if overly praiseworthy even in my estimation) explaining what a feat it really was (and why we were sort of kidding ourselves in not realizing what a hill this was to climb in the first place).

        Now, I’m sure there’s actually problems people have on his record (or Nevada-specific ethical problems), and I’m not saying he may not be deserving of ire. Nothing of the sort. Most people here are way more knowledgeable of the sausage-making process and procedure than I am. Maybe I did just reflexively take it too personally and not see the criticisms as valid as they may really be, but I’ve seen more shots taken at his personality than I care to remember which get me a wee bit annoyed and even bring out the seething of the bullied and teased quiet kid I was in school in me. Don’t underestimate us just on our demeanor. We can surprise you and come back swinging.

        • Scheherazade says:

          I’ve never felt that Reid was weak-willed per se, but I have felt like he should have been more aggressive with Lieberman. However, I’ve not considered his publicly mild-mannered ways to be indicative of a soft nature. My estimation of him has always been that he’s most likely the sort to work behind the scenes more than in the public eye.

          That said, the fact that he is the Senate Majority Leader means that he will be viewed with more scrutiny. I would like to see him present the more aggressive side of his personality for the sake of morale in the party, or at least I would like to see it more often. Nevertheless, the fact that he’s not shy about literally laughing at McConnell for making comments about how the Dems are keeping them voting at all hours of the night shows me that he knows how and when to show contempt for lack of a better word.

          Indeed, this morning I thought Reid did an outstanding job. I was very happy with the way he handled himself. He called out the Republicans for what they’ve been doing and addressed the concerns of the left. That’s what I would expect a leader to do.

          The reason I even mention that I wrote about Reid so much is a reflection of my own conscientiousness about appearing biased when I’m writing something that is designed to be straight reporting. Although, I think that’s something that the right wing’s myths about the “mainstream liberal media” has conditioned in many of us who write about politics and current events.

      • Scheherazade says:

        Reid has shown himself to be assertive during this. I’ve been impressed with him.

  5. KQuark says:

    Damn you beat me to the punch. But I figured you would so that’s why I wrote my article more about the big picture of what healthcare reform means in the future.

    • Scheherazade says:

      LOL! I didn’t know we were competing. 😉 Hehe. I like yours a good deal. The image you found is especially nice. The one I’m using was generated via a screenshot taken while watching C-Span on my compy. I wonder if there’s a way to embed C-Span videos. That would be a nice addition too.

  6. Scheherazade says:

    From Talking Points Memo:

    Senate Passes Landmark Health Care Bill
    Now, Congressional Democrats face one more major challenge: merging two the House’s and the Senate’s two different reform package, so that each chamber can pass the same bill. That merging process kicked of behind the scenes weeks ago, but will begin in earnest in the days ahead, and could last several weeks. We’ll keep you abreast of all developments.

    Read the fully story at Talking Points Memo.

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