Yesterday, we had word (courtesy of TPM) that the House was prepared to go with Plan B, in effect passing the Senate version of the bill, coupled with a Senate promise to amend the bill to the House's liking via reconciliation.
Leading Democrats in the House still insist that "all options are on the table" to move ahead on health care. But for the first time since last Tuesday's special election in Massachusetts, it's clear that they're coalescing around the most widely discussed option: moving ahead with the Senate bill once it's clear that it will be changed through the filibuster-proof reconciliation process. Before they can move ahead, they need the Senate to make some real headway on their end of the bargain--and they're not getting the signs they need.
Fine, this is what I wanted since the New Year. Failing all else,and seeing what appears to me to be 41 solid "No" votes in the Senate, this would appear to be the only track available.
Politico then came out with a story that set my hair on fire. That Nancy was considering a two track solution, in effect passing the stuff we all like (like the ban on pre-existing conditions), and holding a comprehensive bill to the end with the stuff we might not (like the individual mandate). Never mind that the two items have to be paired together or Health Care costs will skyrocket...
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday floated the idea of a two-track plan for health care reform — with Congress pursuing easier-to-pass incremental changes now and comprehensive reform later.
That last phrase being the "hair on fire part". It actually prompted immediate calls to the Speaker's Office and my own Congressman Adam Schiff.
Still, in the very next paragraph she was quoted as saying:
“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 in an interview with POLITICO.
Which doesn't quite match up to what was summarized (by the ever un-trustworthy Poltico) before.
TPM seemed to back this same story up this afternoon.
"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."
But now, the National Journal is reporting that Nancy has the votes for Health Care, in effect going back to Plan B.
Offering Democrats a potential means to revive their top domestic priority, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi flatly predicted Wednesday afternoon that she could muster enough votes to pass the Senate version of health care reform if the upper chamber agreed to adjust the bill through the reconciliation process.
Speaking to columnists just hours before President Obama's first State of the Union Address, Pelosi said that if the Senate used the reconciliation process to revise elements of the legislation unacceptable to her members, the House could approve such a two-track approach. "What I'm saying to you is the Senate bill, stand-alone, I don't see any chance of it [passing the House]," she said. "Reconciliation resolving some of the issues: then we can pass this thing."
So I don't know what the hell is going on right now. Sounds like to me, this last quote from the National Journal was the same thing as Politico got...but Politico decided to spin it their own special way.