Hoyer: Senate Health Care Bill Better Than Nothing

January 19, 2010 7:33 a.m.
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At his weekly press conference this morning, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told reporters that the Senate health care bill would be better than no reform at all. He also insisted that, if Republican Scott Brown wins the Massachusetts Senate special election tonight, Congress can act to pass reform in the approximately 15-day window between tonight and when Republican Scott Brown is officially seated.

I asked Hoyer whether he believes the Senate’s health care bill would be better than no bill at all.

“I think the Senate bill clearly is better than nothing,” Hoyer said.His outlook is telling. If Democrats lose a Senate seat tonight, they could be faced with an unappealing choice: Have the House take up the Senate’s health care bill, or allow reform to die.

As we’ve reported, there’s likely to be a 15 day window between when the winner of tonight’s election is determined, and when the winner is sworn in. Another reporter asked Hoyer, “is it feasible to pass legislation of this magnitude in the next 15 days.”

Hoyer answered emphatically: “Yes.”

Now, that answer doesn’t distinguish between the two main options on the table–the House passing the Senate’s bill word-for-word, and the House sending the Senate an amended bill for final passage. The latter option would be significantly more time consuming, particularly given the Congressional Budget Office’s uncertain timeline. We should know more about what direction Democrats will take later today, and after the election.

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