Hey, who wants to be the last Democrat in the House… #rsrh

to die for Harry Reid’s mistake?

Senate Democrats may go into the bipartisan health care reform summit later this month holding a legislative gun to Republicans’ heads.

Some Democrats are readying a health care reform “Plan B” in case negotiations at the half-day televised forum on Feb. 25 go nowhere. The plan would involve passing part of the imperiled health care bill using reconciliation, a controversial procedural maneuver that would allow the package to pass with 51 votes, as opposed to the usual 60 required to overcome a filibuster.

“I think a decision has just been made — we’re just going to go ahead,” Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, told reporters.

(Via @baseballcrank) Because there’s a whole bunch of supposedly ‘socially conservative’ Democrats who will then have to repudiate their pro-life stance for the greater glory of the Senate Majority Leader – who is, by the way, almost assured to be the former Senate Majority Leader by this time next year.  And the rest of them don’t have to worry about being neglected, either: as Megan McArdle notes (in lieu of banging her head against a wall, no doubt), Republicans are looking forward to running on a platform of opposition to what the Democrats themselves described as a ‘trick.’


Moe Lane

Mark Pryor tosses more dirt on health care rationing’s grave.

The Hill article is surprisingly garbled – I assume that they’ll clean it up this morning – but the original article (“Pryor: Health care reform may not happen this year”) is a lot clearer. The short version is that they’re back at the ‘discussion phase’ for a health care rationing bill, which is legislature-speak for “we’re going to drop the subject, and hope that you will, too.” Every day that it doesn’t get done is a day closer to the day that it won’t get done, and if it’s not done this year, it definitely won’t get done. At least, by Democrats.

And as for reconciliation…

Some have suggested the Senate could use the reconciliation process, which would require 51 votes instead of 60, to pass a bill satisfactory to both chambers.Several moderate Democrats, including Arkansas’ Blanche Lincoln, have said they oppose that idea. Lincoln said Tuesday the process should be transparent and should not involve “last-minute efforts to force changes.”

Pryor told reporters today he was not necessarily opposed to the idea, but it was not his first choice and he doubted it would happen.

“I think it’s people talking right now over on the House side trying to figure out a way forward on health care, but my sense is, in the end reconciliation will not even be attempted,” he said.

Because somebody had to say it, it seems. Pryor’s not up for re-election until 2014, so he can safely shrug off the idea of reconciliation… and, honestly? By now that actually-strictly-defined-procedure has become the equivalent of “and then a miracle happens*” for a certain segment of the Left. At some point somebody needs to explain to them why it’s not a cure-all.

Or why the current ruling party has a sudden disinclination to encourage simple-majority legislating in the Senate.

Moe Lane

*Or, possibly, “And then the NPC casts Wish.”

Crossposted to RedState.

Update of IG-Gate: Grassley holding up nomination until answers given.

Background information available here: the executive summary is that the Inspector General of Americorps was fired earlier this year, under circumstances that appear at best to be part of a whitewash of an administration crony.  Senator Grassley (R) of Iowa has taken an interest in the case, and is making it clear that he’s not going away:

Republican Sen. Charles Grassley has blocked the ambassadorial nomination of Alan Solomont, currently chairman of the board of the government agency that oversees AmeriCorps, in retaliation for what Grassley says is the administration’s stonewalling of Congress over documents relating to the firing of AmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin. Specifically, Grassley has sought, and been denied, information relating to the White House’s role in the decision to fire Walpin.

Solomont, a major Democratic donor, is chairman of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which includes AmeriCorps. His term ends in October, and President Obama has nominated him to be U.S. ambassador to Spain. The nomination was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week and now moves to the Senate floor — except that Grassley has placed a hold on it, meaning it will go nowhere until the senator’s objections are resolved.

Continue reading Update of IG-Gate: Grassley holding up nomination until answers given.

Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) breaks with House Democrats on reconciliation.

While in the process of idly mentioning that the deficit’s going to be worse than originally indicated, Senator Conrad (D-Countrywide) says something very, very interesting:

Conrad also said he did not plan to include any instructions in the budget plan he is crafting for health care or the greenhouse gas initiatives. Such instructions written into the budget would give it a privileged status and make it easier to become law, but likely spark a nasty fight with minority Republicans.

This is in reference to “reconciliation,” which is a process by which the Democrats would be able to put specific legislation into bills that could be passed by a simple majority in the Senate, instead of the 60 vote system that we’ve effectively evolved over the years. The House is currently threatening to impose it over health care, if those awful Republicans don’t ‘see reason’ (translation: ‘do what the Democrats say’): we have a deadline until September. Continue reading Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) breaks with House Democrats on reconciliation.