Well, it’s official. Wary House Democrats are going to have to trust their Senate colleagues to pass legislation fixing the problems they’ve got with the upper chamber’s health care bill if they want reform to become a reality.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today at a press conference confirmed what’s been hinted at for several days – the rules governing the legislative process known as budget reconciliation won’t allow the “fix” bill to go first.
It’s a leap of faith that House Democrats have been worried about for nearly two months since Scott Brown won the special Senate election in Massachusetts. But it’s the rules – Congress can’t reconcile something that isn’t yet a law, and it won’t be law until President Obama signs it. That could be one reason he opted today to delay his trip to Indonesia and Australia.Pelosi (D-CA) said the House will be acting on the Senate bill and laid out the rules.
“In order to have the Senate bill be the basis and build upon it with the reconciliation, you have to pass the Senate bill, or else you’re talking about starting from scratch,” she said.
“So we will pass the Senate bill. Once we pass it, the President signs it or doesn’t, it’s – people would rather he waited until the Senate acted, but the Senate Parliamentarian, as you have said, said in order for them to do a reconciliation based on the Senate bill, it must be signed by the President.”
Earlier today, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) said the House expects to vote in the next 10 days on the Senate-passed health care bill.
“You can’t reconcile a bill you hope to pass,” said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Republicans for the last week have been attempting to poke at the sore spot between House and Senate Democrats, saying repeatedly that House Democrats are right not to trust their counterparts.
Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) said today on Fox News the Senate bill “can’t be fixed” and that pro-life lawmakers who don’t like the upper chamber’s bill and House Democrats in general should be worried about it.
“Members don’t like the Senate bill, especially with the special deals in it. So why would we vote on it or vote for it, send it to president so he could sign it, it becomes law, then the special deals are law, and then trust that they’re going to fix it later? It’s not just me, many members said they don’t agree with that process,” Pence said.