I, like many of my other fellow policy wonks, have been following the procedural aspects of this health care debate for quite some time now. The days following the recent 1 AM cloture vote, however, have been the most intense.
After a great deal of analysis yesterday, I’ve decided that our literal last hope is to make sure Bart Stupak’s (D-Michigan) bark is as big as his bite. Now, of course, I’m not necessarily thinking that it WILL be (Ben Nelson showed us that most politicians have their price), but it’s a small ray of hope, and the area we need to focus our attention on.
Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I have libertarian sentiments, and think voting based on social issues when it comes to federal policy is a bad idea, because it’s, A: not the federal government’s business and should be dealt with on as local of a level as possible, and B: completely pales in comparison to economic issues in my humble opinion.
HOWEVER, that fun debate aside, at this point, from a procedural perspective, the abortion issue happens to be the best possible saving grace for those looking to defeat this piece of tyrannical legislation. Luckily, it’s not a futile aspect of the abortion debate either – the point at issue is whether abortion should be funded by the federal government, which, quite predictably, I happen to be very much against.
So without further adieu, here’s the deal.
The Senate will most likely pass its version of the health care bill. This will happen on Christmas Eve Day – a wonderful gift for the American people. Drink the delicious kool-aid, Citizen!
Once this happens, the left and its allies in the media will proclaim victory. Obama will give some pathetic, substantively empty speech about how this will reduce health care costs as well as the deficit, and how you’ll be able to keep your current insurance (meaning, of course, that the opposite will happen on all three counts), Nancy Pelosi will say “Christmas” again, and not in the context of trying to ban the word, and all the poor, helpless, sane Americans will think all hope is lost.
Not so fast, though.
What average people don’t understand about the legislative process is the conference committee procedure that occurs after both legislative branches pass their version of a bill. The key point is the fact that, if ONLY ONE Senator objects to holding a conference committee meeting to reconcile the two bills, the House and Senate must either vote to pass the Senate bill, or amend it and send it back to the Senate for a do over. As it stands now, there are some very major differences between the health care bills in the House and Senate that may prevent House Democrats from voting for the Senate version.
There are two exceptionally important differences in the two bills.
The first is the presence of a public option in the House bill, but lack thereof in the Senate version. That issue MAY prevent some “progressive” Democrats in the House from voting for a final bill without such a provision (if Keith Olbermann’s reaction to the matter is any clue; that is, if you can bear to listen to him) – however, like Ben Nelson showing us that so-called “moderate” politicians have a price, Bernie Sanders has proven that so called “progressives” will vote for anything that expands government power so they can get a foot in the door, even if they believe the legislation is bad. We can hope that SOME of the “progressive” Democrats who voted for the House bill will join Dennis Kucinich in his opposition to the bill because it doesn’t go far enough. Kucinich wants a full single payer system, so he went so far as to vote against the House bill, although it included a public option. Hopefully, some Democrats will draw a line in the sand and refuse to vote for a bill like the Senate one, which does not include either a public option, or an expansion of Medicare. For example, today, Louise Slaughter (D-NY) has come out against the Senate version of the bill, saying it is too weak, and does not do the American people justice the way the House bill does. She has actually suggested that conference cannot resolve the issues, and everyone should go back to the drawing board! We cannot, however, necessarily count on these politicians to remain principled, but it’s worth pressuring them to do the right thing.
The second major difference, and the issue that I think is poised to be our greatest possible hope, is the strong stance Stupak seems to be taking against the lackluster restrictions against federal funding for abortion that exist in the Senate bill. It is quite possible that his words could be stronger than his actions – I do not doubt that at all. However, the fact that Stupak is coming out publicly with negative comments about the White House pressuring him to stay quiet is definitely a positive.
They think I shouldn’t be expressing my views on this bill until they get a chance to try to sell me the language. Well, I don’t need anyone to sell me the language. I can read it. I’ve seen it. I’ve worked with it. I know what it says. I don’t need to have a conference with the White House. I have the legislation in front of me. A review of the Senate language indicates a dramatic shift in federal policy that would allow the federal government to subsidize insurance policies with abortion coverage. The White House asked me just to hold off for awhile and not to say anything about this language. But as soon as the news broke that they had this compromise, and they got the 60 votes, folks were asking me, and I’m not going to run from the issue
Hopefully, his actions speak as loud; louder, even, than his words.
Although forcing the House to amend and send the bill back to the Senate may seem like a futile delaying tactic and not a guarantee of defeat, ANY measure that delays the vote for ultimate passage is of DIRE IMPORTANCE. The more the public learns about what is in this bill, the less they support it – not to even MENTION the asinine “cash for cloture” deals, blatant corruption, unconstitutionality, and illegal changing of Senate rules that will further sour people on the legislation (more on that below). Anything at all we can do to delay this bill is worth it, which is why the following plan of action needs to be put into place.
Call every single Republican Senator and DEMAND that they object to a conference committee if the Senate bill passes on Thursday. It only takes ONE of them to stand up for freedom and refuse to roll over and allow this monstrosity to pass without a fight. Focus your attention primarily the three Senators most likely to oblige:
Jim DeMint: (202) 224-6121
Tom Coburn: (202) 224-5754
John Ensign: (202) 224-6244
Also, focus on the Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell. Conservatives have been harassing him for selling us out by agreeing to a vote on Christmas Eve Day. Tell him there is a chance for redemption if he refuses to allow the bill to go to committee.
Mitch McConnell: (202) 224-2541
You can also use the Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121) to contact the Senators – a list of Republicans can be found here by clicking the tab on the top right hand corner of the website.
After you call the Republican Senators and do your best to make them PROMISE to object to committee, call ALL 64 Democrats who voted for the Stupak amendment during the debate on the House version of the bill. It is important to call the Republican Senators first so that we know we have a chance at a denial of committee, which is a necessary part of making this second act viable, as it is dependent upon NO COMMITTEE, hence a forced vote for the Senate version of the bill. Thank the 64 Democrats who voted for the Stupak amendment for their strong stance against federal funding for abortion. Then, tell them that the Senate bill is unacceptable as it lacks strong language banning abortion funding. Tell them they will vote for a bill with the Senate’s version of abortion language at their own peril, and that you will work tirelessly for their opponent if they sell out on the issue.
Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for Congressman ____________
Griffith (now Republican)
Also, please consider calling Lousie Slaughter (D-NY) 202-225-3615, who I mentioned above. Although she is not the kind of Representative that I think any of us agree with, calling her and thanking her for her principled stand against a faulty health care bill will be sufficient. You don’t have to agree with her reasoning for her position, but encouraging a no vote is what’s important.
Pressuring the Republicans to make sure we don’t go to committee is the KEY here. Neither the House “progressives” nor the anti-abortion Democrats will be happy with the Senate bill. If they have to vote on that with no ability to change it, the bill may not pass and there will likely be a delay, which can only benefit the opposition.
PLEASE, do your part by calling these Congressmen as soon as possible. It is grassroots pressure that has delayed them to this point, and we need to do everything we can to defend our freedom of choice in health care. Need anymore convincing? Watch Daniel Hannan, British politician, talking about how terrible socialized medicine is in Great Britain.
Thank you – and don’t stop the fight for freedom!
– Corie Whalen
Other important issues regarding the Senate health care bill:
Uncovered by Jim DeMint: Harry Reid declares himself Dictator by illegally declaring, without a vote of 2/3 of the Senate on a rule change, that aspects of the health care bill CANNOT BE REPEALED by a future Congress!
McConnel Surrenders: GOP leadership rolls over and becomes complicit in allowing the majority party kill freedom. McConnell is more concerned about being branded as an “obstructionist” by the media elites and his beltway colleagues than he is about saving freedom in America.
South Carolina Senators Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham ask SC’s Attorney General to sue Nebraska over Ben Nelson’s special treatment on medicare subsidy funds that hurts every other state.
Senators Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) and John Ensign (R-Nevada) force deabte on the constitutionality of the Senate health care bill. Predictably, Max Baucus pays disingenuous lip service to the Constitution in response, and then claims that the commerce clause gives the federal government the power to do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, despite everything else the document clearly states.