TPM News

The Democrats' Congressional campaign arms have sent out a pair of fundraising e-mails from two big names that were involved in passing the health care bill, in two very different ways: Vice President Joe Biden, who spoke with Senators throughout the process -- and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), whose switch to supporting the bill, after he'd previously opposed it for not going far enough, helped bring it over the finish line.

"Just over a year ago, President Obama and I were sworn into office to preside over a country in desperate need of change," Biden writes in his e-mail for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "One year later, we have signed historic health care reform into law. Republicans want to exact a political price for our success. Their plan is this: Use the midterm elections to strengthen their numbers, weaken Democrats, repeal health care reform and destroy President Obama. And they are more than willing to lie to do it."

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The Republicans seem to be responding to the passage of health care and likely passage of the reconciliation measure by invoking little-known rules to slow everything down. Senate Republicans have used a rare tactic during the opening of Senate business to cancel or postpone committee hearings.

In simple terms, the Senate has a rule about the hours that hearings can be held each day. They can't be held until two hours after convening business, or after 2 p.m. To adjust the timing, any changes must be agreed upon each day by the chamber. They always are, with no fanfare. But today the Senate Republicans objected to holding the hearings, which forced several hearings to either be postponed or canceled. The maneuver is done by voice vote on the floor, and we don't yet know which senator objected.

Senate Democrats are decrying the tactic -- used yesterday to stop a subcommittee hearing on bark beetles and then today to slow a hearing on police training contracts in Afghanistan and cancel a Judiciary hearing on nominees -- as obstructionism beyond the pale. Senate gallery staff told TPMDC it's possible the GOP will try to force votes today to elongate the overall debate time for the bill, potentially even pushing it into the weekend.

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Dan Senor, the Bush administration's top spokesman in Iraq, won't run for the U.S. Senate from New York after all.

Here's his statement:

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As I noted here, the GOP strategy for reconciliation is pure hardball. Democrats want to pass a clean bill, so Republicans will make Dems vote down politically charged amendments, including one--introduced by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)--to prohibit insurance companies for covering Viagra costs for rapists, and another--also introduced by Coburn--to fire one government employee each time the health care bill requires a new bureaucrat be hired.

Once the votes are cast, of course, they become fodder for attack ads come election season.

So far, the GOP has filed 32 amendments. But these 10 are our picks for the most ridiculous:

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The final passage of President Obama's landmark health care bill is sure to have a huge impact on the 2012 elections. And it could particularly present some pitfalls for Mitt Romney, who appears to be setting up a run for the nomination of a Republican Party that is dead-set against the idea of universal health care -- and who in fact passed a universal health care bill himself in Massachusetts.

Romney is taking a hard line against Obama's health care bill, and calling for repeal. "America has just witnessed an unconscionable abuse of power," Romney said in a post at National Review. "President Obama has betrayed his oath to the nation -- rather than bringing us together, ushering in a new kind of politics, and rising above raw partisanship, he has succumbed to the lowest denominator of incumbent power: justifying the means by extolling the ends."

But it should be noted that there are some obvious similarities between Obama's health bill and Romney's in Massachusetts, such as the individual mandate requiring people to buy insurance, with government subsidies for lower-income people. There are also some differences between the two, in terms of cost controls and how the programs are paid for. But the problem for Romney is he is running against a reform measure that bears a strong resemblance to the one he enacted in Massachusetts and that is very unpopular with the conservative base he's trying to win over.

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Rep. Peter King (R-NY) urged Republicans this morning to try working constructively with Democrats on improving the recently passed health care bill.

"We Republicans, we can't just pile on it, not just say, 'we're going to repeal,' not just tear it apart. We have to be constructive," King said on Imus in the Morning, breaking with prominent conservatives like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who continues to advocate outright repeal of the bill.

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In a statement released yesterday, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) denounced claims that his vote for health care reform was linked to Federal Aviation Administration grants for three airports in his district. Here's the full statement:

Individuals and organizations who are falsely trying to link my vote for health care reform to annual FAA maintenance grants awarded to my district are simply grasping at straws. It is absurd to think I would change my vote for a tow truck and a fence to keep deer from walking onto the runway of an airport in Escanaba. I have long advocated for comprehensive health care reform and voted in favor of the House health care reform bill - a fact that many opponents of health care reform can't seem to acknowledge.

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