TPM News

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's spokesman, Jim Manley, released a statement today criticizing Republican leadership's refusal to let Senate committees meet. Here's the full statement:

"Senator McCain's promised obstruction comes to reality just a day later. 'The Party of No' wouldn't even agree to let Senate committees meet today. Ironically, as they make false claims about transparency regarding health reform, they're shutting down a committee hearing today on transparency in government.

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What a difference a day makes. And, you know, the signing of a sweeping health care bill.

Last week, the atmosphere in the Capitol--and indeed, all across political Washington--was tense, and ominous. Democrats hadn't rounded up all the votes they needed (and ultimately found) to pass health care reform, and Senate Republicans knew it. They kicked up as much dust as they could to scare House members into killing their own bill. Fixing the health care bill with reconciliation would fail, they warned over and over again, and Dems would be stuck having enacting an unpopular reform.

Today, that's all gone.

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President Obama hailed today's signing of health care reform as an historic moment in American history.

The legislative victory on health care reform was not the President's alone, however, and he delivered his remarks to a room of key reform players. But only 20 of those walked away with the prime prize--a health care reform signing pen. Here, according to the WH Press Office, are the Dems who got the pens:

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House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters today that Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) has done enough to apologize for his "baby killer" outburst during the health care reform vote Sunday, though Hoyer cautioned Republicans that it was actions like Neugebauer's that helped lead to some of the darker moments during the final 48 hours of debate on the bill this weekend. Asked about Neugebauer during his weekly briefing with reporters, Hoyer read Neugebauer's apology letter for the outburst, in which Neugebauer said he had not meant to single out Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) -- as it appeared to most listeners -- but instead was referring to the entire health care bill when he shouted during Stupak's explanation of his es vote. Hoyer said he accepted the explanation, and Neugebauer's apology, though he said he and most Democrats didn't hear the remark the way Neugebauer said he said it.

"He said he said 'it's', and I take him at his word," Hoyer said, adding, "I don't think we need to carry it any further."

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A new Gallup poll set to appear in tomorrow's USA Today shows public opinion is turning around on Democratic health care reform efforts now that the bill has reached final passage.

A plurality of voters surveyed in the poll, 49%, said passing the bill was "a good thing" as opposed to just 40% who said the passage of the reform bill was bad for the country.

There's more good news for Democrats worried about their election chances after passing the bill found in the poll. Most respondents said they had positive feelings about the bill's passage, and 48% -- which USA Today reports is the "largest single group" in the poll -- called the bill "a good first step" and should actually be followed by more reform efforts.

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If Senate Republican efforts to carpet bomb the health care reconciliation bill with technical objections fails they'll have basically nothing to show for their last two weeks of rhetorical bluster. And in preparation for that, they're preparing to accuse Senate parliamentarian Alan Frumin of partisanship in the event that he steamrolls their complaints about the package.

"We'll see what the parliamentarian rules, and whether he becomes a player in this exercise or a--truly--a referee," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters at his weekly press conference today.

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Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) is calling for a strong re-assertion of states rights against Congress -- in the form of a Constitutional amendment to eliminate the direct popular election of Senators, and go back to the pre-17th Amendment setup of state legislatures appointing them.

"Ever since the safeguard of State legislatures electing U.S. Senators was removed by the 17th Amendment in 1913, there has been no check or balance on the Federal power grab for the last 97 years," Gohmert said in a press release, calling for a constitutional convention of the states. "Article V requires a minimum of 34 states to request a Convention which in this case, would be an Amendment Convention for only ONE amendment."

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