Pelosi Considers Two Track Strategy For Health Care Reform

Congressional Quarterly/Newscom

Politico is reporting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pursuing a dual-track strategy for health care reform.

“We believe that it’s possible to have comprehensive health care reform as we go forward, but at the same time, it can be on another track where some things can just be passed outside of that legislation, and we’ll be doing both,” Pelosi said.

But what exactly does that mean? A top House aide clarifies.“We can work on a comprehensive bill…we’ve got to figure out what the process is, who goes first, and whether the Senate goes first or second it doesn’t matter but the fact remains that it could take a couple weeks for them to debate on the floor,” the aide said. “While we’re doing that: What else can we do in the meantime?”

“This is just an example,” the aide went on, “but the anti-trust exemption isn’t in the Senate bill. So that couldn’t be added through reconciliation. So the House could pass a couple of smaller things that can pass as freestanding items, and can’t be added through reconciliation.”

This strategy offer a number of potential benefits. First, it has the potential to make the bill better in the eyes of the House (provided the ancillary bills passes the Senate. Second, it turns up the pressure on all parties to make sure that a final, comprehensive bill passes. And it takes public attention off of the prevailing story of procedural logjams and Democratic infighting.