…which is a different headline than “GOP forces new House vote on health overhaul”, which is what MSNBC has on their website (implying somewhat that Republicans might have succeeded at amending it). What the Republicans were able to do was to find a couple of minor technical language items that violate reconciliation rules and “relates to Pell grants for low-income college students” and that needed to be changed, that’s all. Even then, MSNBC concedes:
The two [changed] provisions are expected to be formally removed from the bill on Thursday. Manley said he expected the Senate to approve the measure without them and send it to the House. He said Senate leaders, after conversations with top House Democrats, expect the House to approve the revised measure.
DailyKos has this to add:
The Senate will return today to deal with another few amendments still pending, but all indications are that the Republican resistance is collapsing. And why wouldn’t it? Recess is coming! Well, that plus the fact that the main health care bill is now the health care law, and the reconciliation bill was always a considerably less-important appendage, and Republicans stood to gain next to nothing by trying to block it. In fact, they risked provoking Democrats into cutting their efforts off at the knees and setting new precedent with which to fight future Republican obstruction in the process.
The bill will have to go back to the House, with just 16 lines of text removed from 150+ pages. And if the House chooses, it can dispatch with the whole thing with a rule it can debate and pass in an hour, and a motion to agree to the Senate changes in an hour after that.
On the other hand, Democrats could charge a fee of sorts for the trouble Republicans put them through, even though it really didn’t amount to much. Since the bill goes back to the House no matter what at this point, there’s no longer any disadvantage to, say, offering a public option amendment. At least there’s no disadvantage procedurally. Will they do it? Well, they’ll probably opt for the path of least resistance, which would tell you no. But it’s certainly worth considering. Democratic counter-planning for the Republican filibuster-by-amendment appears to have sapped GOP resolve. It might not be a bad time to at least give the public option (or some other similar item) a road test with the Byrd Rule. If it doesn’t work, you’ve learned important lessons in advance of writing the next budget resolution and any attendant reconciliation instructions. And since you’ve always got the option of having the House agree to the Senate changes with nothing added in about an hour, you can always just double back and pass that instead and close out the game.
To read the rest of the DailyKos posting, click here.
Update: the reconciliation bill has been officially approved by the Senate 56-43, with Vice President Joe Biden presiding in case he needed to break a tie. Read the story here; as the Associated Press reports:
Eager to get the contentious battle behind them, Democrats originally hoped the Senate’s vote would ship the measure to President Barack Obama for his signature. But working with the chamber’s parliamentarian, Republicans found two minor provisions in the bill — dealing with Pell grants for low-income students — that violated congressional budget rules and were deleted from the legislation.
As a result, the bill had to be returned to the House because both chambers must approve identical legislation before it can be sent to the White House. Top House Democrats said they expected to do just that by evening.
Update #2: Health Insurance Refom is officially complete with the House doing the final voting on it today, approving the reconciliation bill 220-207.