Green Room

ObamaCare: The unsurprising non-conference

posted at 10:16 pm on January 4, 2010 by

The New Republic stretches the meaning of “EXCLUSIVE” on ObamaCare:

According to a pair of senior Capitol Hill staffers, one from each chamber, House and Senate Democrats are “almost certain” to negotiate informally rather than convene a formal conference committee. Doing so would allow Democrats to avoid a series of procedural steps–not least among them, a series of special motions in the Senate, each requiring a vote with full debate–that Republicans could use to stall deliberations, just as they did in November and December.

“There will almost certainly be full negotiations but no formal conference,” the House staffer says. “There are too many procedural hurdles to go the formal conference route in the Senate.”

First, the Democratic leadership was looking at forgoing a traditional conference committee in favor of a ping-pong (or pong ping) strategy for passing of ObamaCare since before passage of the Senate version. Second, the strategy eliminates a whopping three procedural hurdles — and they are so procedural that the only difference would be another 90 hours of delay (as was the case with passing the Senate version before Christmas).

Philip Klein, who has done yeoman’s work on blogging ObamaCare, is not convinced that House liberals will stand for the final bill being cooked up in a small backroom. But steamrolling House liberals is likely the real reason the leadership does not want a real House-Senate conference. Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Raul Grijalva whines:

“I am disappointed that there will be no formal conference process by which various constituencies can impact the discussion. I have not been approached about my concerns with the Senate bill, and I will be raising those at the Democratic Caucus meeting on Thursday. I and other progressives saw a conference as a means to improve the bill and have a real debate, and now with this behind-the-scenes approach, we’re concerned even more.”

House progressives needs to brush up on their chick-lit: If they aren’t calling you, they just aren’t that into you.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus will reportedly demand an agreement from Obama that health care coverage for illegals who earn a path to citizenship will be addressed in an immigration bill. This is textbook Wimpy: I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman can tell people he will confront Pres. Obama over the deal the White House cut with PhRMA. But when he asks Obama, “Are we interested in protecting the profits of the drug companies or protecting seniors?”, we already know he’s going to side with drug companies. Waxman can indignantly flare his nostrils, but the reality is that the drug companies already steamrolled Waxman in his own committee.

The non-conference may produce a lot of sound and fury from House liberals, but it will signify nothing. Progressives have not shown the cojones of a Joe Lieberman, who was willing to let the bill die until to got what he wanted. (And that, as much as anything, explains lefty hysteria toward Lieberman.)

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Right on.

livefreerdie on January 4, 2010 at 10:39 PM

Lieberman showed ‘cojones’? Really? The Dems were always going to pass this monstrosity, so no amount of Liebermans so-called cojones dangling did anything.

This is more show, that’s all it is. All the so-called posturing from Nelson, Lieberman and others was show all along. At the end of the day, did anyone really believe any Dem would vote against this on principle? Come on…

Hopefully, the Republicans will take this and run with it – this maneuver is ripe for the picking.

catmman on January 4, 2010 at 10:55 PM

catmman on January 4, 2010 at 10:55 PM

Lieberman (and likely Nelson) definitely would have blocked this with a public option. The insurance biz is simply too important to CT and NE. And Obama was privately happy to go along, as buying off the big insurers was part of his strategy for passing the bill.

Karl on January 4, 2010 at 11:44 PM

As long as the progressives can be convinced that this really is just a “starter house,” why wouldn’t they go along to get along? The “house” can be enlarged at a later date, but the important thing is to get something passed before they lose their majorities.

Desert Gardens on January 5, 2010 at 1:51 AM

The Dems appear really determined to own this catastrophe, even if it means sacrificing their political lives and possibly the life of their party. We’ll all suffer the consequences, but let the chips fall where they may.

Howard Portnoy on January 5, 2010 at 9:51 AM

Karl on January 4, 2010 at 11:44 PM

I see what your saying and it makes sense if you believe either of the two have motivations other than towing the party line.

All the blustering about the PO from any Dem is simply theatrics IMO.

The real test will be when the final vote comes around I suppose but how have the votes gone so far? The Dems – any Dems – are not going to vote against this, when the rubber finally hits the road. they haven’t yet.

catmman on January 5, 2010 at 10:22 AM