President Barack Obama and other Democratic lawmakers are pushing hard on undecided lawmakers to pass massive health care legislation by the weekend.
House leaders are even considering a rare procedure that would allow House Democrats to approve legislation by passing fixes to the Senate version without actually voting on the Senate legislation. It’s a tricky approach. It’s an approach that has many Republicans fuming, though they themselves used the tactic during years they controlled the House.
Embattled Sen. Blanche Lincoln even came out against the tactic, saying she opposed House members passing Senate legislation without a direct vote.
Obama’s and the Democrats’ opponents aren’t necessarily Republicans. Sure, many Democrats have accepted that Republicans won’t support any Democrat-sponsored legislation on health care. But now, they’re wondering if they can scrape up enough Democrats to pass legislation on their own, which is why some lawmakers are pushing for the parliamentary strategy.
The thinking is that House Democrats wary of supporting health care legislation because they’re up for re-election can vote "yes" on fixes to the Senate bill without actually voting for the Senate bill. It gets confusing.
Much of the opposition from House Democrats revolves around loose wording in the Senate bill’s ban on taxpayer-subsidized abortions. They want stricter wording specifically banning any federal subsidies from funding abortions.
Aside from the abortion debate, though, it’s tough to imagine why House Democrats won’t take advantage of an opportunity to complete something that has failed so many times before: significant reform of the nation’s health care system.
The Senate’s bill may have its own flaws. But it’s the best solution lawmakers have presented that could push health care reform through this year. Anything else would require starting from scratch. And there’s arguably no time for that.
More than 40 million Americans are without adequate health coverage. This bill covers 30 million of them. That’s three-fourths of our uninsured population.
The bill would end insurance company practices that deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. Who can oppose that?
Many oppose mandatory coverage. We were supporters of a public option. But few Democratic lawmakers supported the public option.
The proposed Senate bill isn’t perfect. But, for that matter, we can’t think of a single piece of legislation that is.
And that’s the system by which our nation operates. We’re always working to better society, and a society that allows 40 million Americans to be priced out of quality health coverage certainly needs improvement.