The health care bill passed

In a straight up vote (not using the “deem and pass” dodge), the final tally was 219 for to 212 against. It took 216 to win.

The difference was the 6 pro-life Democrats who agreed to vote for the bill if the President would sign an executive order forbidding federal money in the program going to pay for abortion. (See post below.)

Now the Senate must pass some reconciliation elements, but since the House passed the Senate bill and since the President will sign it, this is essentially a done deal.

Did you watch the debate? What I saw was quite telling. What did it tell you?

The executive order

Here is the text of President Obama’s executive order that bans federal money in the new national health care system from paying for abortion. Part of it directs officials to come up with a way of “segregating” the money that comes from government subsidies from the money that individuals pay from their own pockets when it comes to abortion coverage. This is what persuaded Representative Bart Stupak (D-MI) and other pro-life Democrats to vote for the bill. Read the order (it’s only one page). Do you think it will prevent abortions?

Passing Health Care without voting for it

Our Democratic leaders are resolved to pass the health care reform bill no matter what.  Even if it doesn’t have the votes.  Here is the latest strategy:

After laying the groundwork for a decisive vote this week on the Senate's health-care bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Monday that she might attempt to pass the measure without having members vote on it.

Instead, Pelosi (D-Calif.) would rely on a procedural sleight of hand: The House would vote on a more popular package of fixes to the Senate bill; under the House rule for that vote, passage would signify that lawmakers “deem” the health-care bill to be passed.

The tactic — known as a “self-executing rule” or a “deem and pass” — has been commonly used, although never to pass legislation as momentous as the $875 billion health-care bill. It is one of three options that Pelosi said she is considering for a late-week House vote, but she added that she prefers it because it would politically protect lawmakers who are reluctant to publicly support the measure.

“It's more insider and process-oriented than most people want to know,” the speaker said in a roundtable discussion with bloggers Monday. “But I like it,” she said, “because people don't have to vote on the Senate bill.”

via House may try to pass Senate health-care bill without voting on it – washingtonpost.com.

do-nothing Republicans vs. pro-life Democrats

Pro-life activist Marjorie Dannenfelser serves notice on the Republican party, which increasingly seems to be trying to play down the abortion issue.  In the meantime, the lawmakers who are stepping up to fight abortion are pro-life Democrats such as Rep. Bart Stupak, who is blocking the health care bill unless it forbids funding for abortion.

She points out that pro-lifers have been an important part of the Republican base, but they are being taken for granted.  She cites statistics that as many as 75% of Americans, including big majorities in Democratic districts, oppose using federal money to pay for abortion.  But Republicans aren’t taking advantage of this opening.  She indicates that her group will be supporting pro-life Democrats.

via If Republicans keep ignoring abortion, they’ll lose in the midterm elections – washingtonpost.com.

Are you a single-issue pro-life voter?  What would it take for you to switch to the Democratic party?

Or is the author exaggerating the problem in saying that Republicans are more interested now in economic issues and Tea Party activism?   Aren’t most Tea Party activists also pro-life?

Destroying the Senate

The “Christian Science Monitor,” not a conservative publication, has a piece by Mark Sappenfield entitled Reconciliation: why healthcare reform ‘nuclear option’ is deadly. It discusses the tactic of evading the filibuster rules so as to pass the Health Care Reform bill with a bare majority, rather than needing 60 votes. The author is referring to a “Face the Nation” appearance by centrist Republican Lindsey Graham and centrist Democrat Evan Bayh:

To many senators, including Graham, these procedures are not roadblocks to effective governance, they are the building blocks of it. The Senate is generally the last word in American legislative politics partly because it is seen as being more collegial and collaborative than its congressional cousin – and these seemingly arcane rules are the reason it is so, some would argue.

What is the significance of requiring a bill to win 60 votes or face a filibuster, after all? It is, at least on one level, an inducement to find compromise – to cross the aisle, to build coalitions.

To Graham, using reconciliation to pass healthcare reform circumvents the very mandate for consensus-building that makes the Senate unique.

Of course, reconciliation has been used before by both parties. But Graham noted that other cases involved at least some cross-party consensus. In this case, not a single Senate Republican voted for the healthcare reform bill.

If Senate Democrats used reconciliation to make changes to their healthcare bill, Republicans would pull out every stop to bring work in the Senate to a halt between now and the November elections, both Graham and Senator Bayh conceded.

Perceptions of the Pentagon shooter

The Washington Post on Saturday carried two front page stories, side by side, on John Patrick Bedell, the man who shot and wounded two guards at the Pentagon before he was killed.  The one story, Pentagon shooter, others strike symbols of ‘power for the powerless’, framed the attack in terms of anti-government groups, such as the Tea Party movement and right-wing militias.   “Researchers who track violent groups see Bedell’s rampage as a distorted manifestation of the anti-Washington view that has driven the rise of right-wing militias.”

And yet, the accompanying news article describes a marijuana activist whom friends described as a “peacenik” known for his 9/11 denial and his online rants against George W. Bush. In other words, this mentally-disturbed 36-year-old was a creature of the left rather than of the right, despite the impression created by the feature story.

Yes, Bedell believed in wild conspiracy theories–maintaining that the government was taken over by a “coup” when JFK was assassinated and that it has been run by a sinister non-democratic cabal ever since–but such fantasies are commonplace on the hard left as well as the hard right.


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