Harry Reid’s odd announcement this week on ObamaCare had some wondering whether he had agreement from moderate Democrats to support cloture, even if they wound up voting against ObamaCare when it came to the floor. One of those moderates, Evan Bayh of Indiana, dispelled the notion that one would be significantly different from the other. Bayh also warned that excessive fees and fiscal irresponsibility would doom his vote for either:
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.): Democratic leaders should be able to tell where Bayh is headed based on his vote on whether to move to a debate. The Indiana Democrat said Tuesday that he doesn’t see “much difference between process and policy at this particular juncture,” and that he’ll be “looking at those two things as one and the same.”
But Bayh said Tuesday that he’s not as concerned with the public option, saying he’s “more focused on is this fiscally responsible and what does this mean in terms of the premiums average families pay for those who currently have insurance.” Bayh said that Reid’s decision to reduce new fees on medical device makers has put his vote in play.
“Without that, they definitely would not have my support,” Bayh said.
This makes Reid’s move even more inexplicable. All Republicans need at the moment are two Democrats to stop cloture, and one of those would balance Olympia Snowe — and with a public option, Snowe claims she’ll join Republicans anyway. Losing Joe Lieberman yesterday was bad enough, but at least Lieberman is technically an independent. Did Reid not check with his moderate Democrats to ensure they would remain on board?
Politico’s Manu Raju and Chris Frates also report that the two Senators from Arkansas are also in play for a filibuster. Lincoln has already made her opposition to a public option plain, and says that she will not vote for cloture on a plan that includes one. Now her fellow Democrat Mark Pryor says his vote on procedure will depend in part on Lincoln’s. Ben Nelson, meanwhile, says he has no idea how he’ll vote because no one has produced a bill yet:
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.): Perhaps the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, Nelson said Tuesday that it’s “too soon” to say how he’ll vote, saying he wanted to see the official cost estimate and the language.
Asked if he could support Reid’s opt-out plan, Nelson said: “What is it? Have you read it? I’m not being feisty here. But nobody has read it other than the leader and some staff. That is the point.”
Will Reid’s bill get a CBO score before Reid offers it for debate on the floor? Reid lost his Doctor Fix bill that would have hidden $250 billion in costs from the CBO, and that was before Reid added the public option onto the Baucus plan. The CBO score will likely show Reid’s Frankenstein monster of a bill as a deficit buster, which will force Obama to either reject it or break his oft-repeated promise to do so on any bill that adds to the deficit.
That’s assuming it makes it that far, of course. Nelson, Pryor, and Bayh have made it clear that they won’t back a bill that adds to the deficit, and all three won’t distinguish between procedural votes and floor votes on the bill itself. That makes it look like Reid will be heading towards another embarrassing loss, just like the one he got on the Doctor Fix.