In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Obama's Pushing Congress To Vote On Health Care Before August--Here's Why

If a lot of work remains to be done on health care after the August recess, Congress will find itself fast upon its deadline to pass a budget reconciliation bill. Democrats have suggested that they'd use the reconciliation process to pass health care reform if a bipartisan bill is unable to pass via normal legislative channels by mid-October--Obama's current goal. The very possibility of going the reconciliation route--and thereby avoiding a filibuster--has served as a weak lever of sorts for congressional leaders--a call to health care reform fence-sitters and opponents to play along, or be shut out of the process altogether. But in reality this isn't how Democrats--or anybody else on the Hill, really--wants health care to pass.

And yet, if Congress enters recess with weeks of work left to do, party leaders may have to make a call; and those who oppose passing health care through the reconciliation process--Republicans and some Democrats--might be trying to run out the clock--to call leadership's bluff, or, at the very least, to touch off a game of legislative chicken. If that's what it comes to, the political fight will be fascinating to watch. But it's pretty clear that party leaders and a cautious White House would prefer not to have to make the call.

Hence all the urgency.

About The Author


Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at