It has been widely reported today that Congressional leaders plan to bypass conference committees to merge the healthcare bills in the House and the Senate to prevent further GOP obstructionism.

Now that both the House and Senate have passed health care reform bills, all Democrats have to do is work out a compromise between the two versions. And it appears they’re not about to let the Republicans gum up the works again.

According to a pair of senior Capitol Hill staffers, one from each chamber, House and Senate Democrats are “almost certain” to negotiate informally rather than convene a formal conference committee. Doing so would allow Democrats to avoid a series of procedural steps–not least among them, a series of special motions in the Senate, each requiring a vote with full debate–that Republicans could use to stall deliberations, just as they did in November and December.

“There will almost certainly be full negotiations but no formal conference,” the House staffer says. “There are too many procedural hurdles to go the formal conference route in the Senate.”

I have some mixed feelings about this move because it is a strong arm tactic but for the most part I think it’s a wise political move. Republicans simply do not want to cooperate on healthcare so for practical reasons they have nothing new to offer to the process. Who knows we could even be pleasantly surprised and more progressive elements of the House bill will be easier to add to the final bill now, though I would still not count on the PO being in the final bill. Again my greatest hope for the bill is that it adopts the House’s more generous subsidies, the Senates more common sense approach to covering abortions and a Federal Employees style nation wide non-profit “self pay” insurance program which is very close tot he PO anyway. However I do hope actions like this are the exception rather than the rule.

I regret I forgot which Planeteer gave me this link but click here for a link that will roughly calculate the subsidies you may be eligible for based on the language in the House and Senate bills.

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KQ, or anyone who may like to read the PDF from the house on their bargaining points Please read this link:

Some here at The Planet are very good at deciphering govspeak and breaking it down for all here.


I think this is great! Why was it even an issue? Why wouldn’t Reid and Pelosi go this route? It seems a no-brainer to me.


I don’t mind if they completely ignore the GOP from here on out. Why bother trying to communicate with those who will not listen? For me, the important part of this process is the involvement of the White House. Obama says he will be active in this, so it will give us a much better picture of where his loyalties actually lie. Will the final bill be more in favor of the people or the companies?

Meanwhile, it is extremely important that we stay involved in this process. Keep writing, calling, and reminding your Congress members and the leadership that you care about this, and will hold them accountable for the result.

Corgi Lover

Kquark: IMHO, the bargaining will go like this: White House to House Democrats: We can only pass it if it’s what the Senate Democrats and Lieberman have agreed to. Get on board. This is the only train in town. Or no ride at all.

A sad but probably highly accurate assessment.


I agree, Felonious. Lieberman and Nelson and whomever wants to can still make demands. And without them, there is no bill as long as reconciliation is not an option and we therefore need 60 votes. (But that’s another topic for discussion.)

But there is still some important haggling to be done. For one thing, I want to tax the rich, and not union workers.


Remember – Nelson got what he wanted in the abortion amendment that many of us actually think is pretty close to Lois Capps’ amendment in the House. The other Blue Dogs can be easily cowed with threats of lost federal dollars. That leaves Senator L., and the loss of his chairmanship coupled with removal to the committee on tourism to Bora Bora would probably do the trick. These guys don’t have power any longer.

Bringing out the rubber hoses, as Matt Taibi noted, can be done only once. NOW is the time when the final version goes to the Senate floor. I think Obama, Reid, and Pelosi all know they have the power. Now is when they need to use it. We probably won’t see the machinations, but we will see some kind of face saving that lets L. vote for cloture but not the bill. It’s OK – we have enough votes to PASS it once it gets to the floor.

I will know more Wed. after my weekly conference call with House and Senate staff. I will see if I have the gumption to post – actually post – what I’ve learned. It’s that danged photo thingy…


First – hi Felonious – we missed you!

Second, if Reid and Pelosi are open to this, what someone on either Olbermann or Maddow called “ping pong” – back and forth between the houses, and it’s without any reference to the Reeps, then I have even GREATER hopes that the gloves will come off with Lieberman! We know from many reports that L. fears one thing – loss of chairmanship of Senate Homeland Security. I think this shows the determination of the progressives in each house to get a REAL bill without capitulation. And that means to Lieberman! I could be wrong (I often am) but this looks good, it’s heartwarming, and I think it would NOT happen if they did not have a real strategy for dealing with the Great Stone Face of the Senate. NOW is the time to push for real cost effectiveness for all families and individuals, a solid public option, and even some significant coverage for legal immigrants.

This is what I’d hoped would happen – can’t believe it IS! It’s very positive because it would not occur if the Dems had not had this in their hip pocket and were willing, after giving bi-partisanship a chance – and that’s fine since it showed the Reeps for what they are, to do what must be done, set a solid path toward real reform, and NOT defer to the troglodytes. And number one in the latter group is Senator L.

I am VERY hopeful!


I’m not familiar with all these byzantine legislative processes so I was surprised they could even do this. What does it really mean though? I guess the No-Folks (repubs) won’t be able to slow things down during the ping-pong process but we’ll still need 60 votes to get it to a vote in the senate, won’t we? So when push comes to shove, what does this buy us, other than an F-U to the repubs and a speedier process?

That link came from me, KQ. I got it from cavegal on HP.