Lincoln, Bayh Reject Reconciliation For Health Bill

In case anyone was counting on Evan Bayh and Blanche Lincoln to vote for the reconciliation fix to the health bill, your faith was misplaced:

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) rejected using the budget reconciliation process to pass health reform legislation on Tuesday.

Lincoln joined Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) to reject using the parliamentary maneuver bypassing the 60-vote majority needed in the Senate to bypass a filibuster in order to pass Democrats' health reform bill. I am opposed to and will fight against any attempts to push through changes to the Senate health insurance reform legislation by using budget reconciliation tactics that would allow the Senate to pass a package of changes to our original bill with 51 votes," she said in a statement.

I would not count on Ben Nelson or Joe Lieberman either. That leaves 5 Dems to spare. Who would want to wriggle out the most? Landrieu? Pryor? McCaskill? Byrd (based on his bizarre House of Lordism)? Feingold? Even if you lost all of these (which I doubt), you still have 50 votes. That gets it done.

Speaking for me only

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    Conrad said he was on board (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by andgarden on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 02:21:23 PM EST
    I think this can be done.

    So the House has to pass the sidecar (none / 0) (#49)
    by MKS on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 07:40:12 PM EST
    first so that they have comfort that they know what they are getting....

    Then, the Senate passes sidecar by 50-50 if necessary.

    Then, the House passes the original Senate bill....

    Is that the sequence?  If so, then the ball is in the House's court--in some fashion they have got to tell the Senate what should be in the sidecar....


    The rule attached to the sidecar in the House (none / 0) (#50)
    by andgarden on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 08:34:06 PM EST
    can treat the Senate bill as passed if the Senate bill passes the sidecar. I.e., it will be self-executing.

    Bayh is the dumbest man in the Senate (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by esmense on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 02:48:54 PM EST
    There are some extremely dim guys on the other side, of course, but I don't think any of them actually could beat out Bayh in the empty suit/empty head category.

    Bayh ain't stupid, he knows who pays the bills (none / 0) (#57)
    by beowulf on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 11:46:02 PM EST
    His wife Susan has made nearly twice as much in the past 6 years as a Director of Wellpoint than Evan has made as a US Senator.  
    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/10/report_bayhs_wife_made_millions_as_board_member_fo .php

    Olbermann (5.00 / 4) (#36)
    by jbindc on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 04:26:43 PM EST
    Did not make a "poor choice of words".  That was one of his special comments, which means it was loaded in the teleprompter, which means he had time to think about it. It was deliberate.

    And the only reason he apologized was because the network got grief for it, and it was going to hurt the ratings (and possibly the advertisers) on an already meager and unwatched show.

    If they kept it simple and took the (none / 0) (#2)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 02:36:35 PM EST
    reconcilliation process in pieces as is recommended with things like banning recissions and exclusions of folks with pre-existing conditions - they probably could get some of those guys and even Republicans too.  It is much easier to force a vote if a Senator has to answer a simple yes or no question on its merits than when they throw a jumbled mess out there that voters and politicians alike can hardly follow.

    You start with the expansion of Medicaid and the funding.  Then you move onto the next budget item on the Medicare front.  Then...

    The GOP were brilliant at this legislative strategy.  They understood that omnibus bills could backfire in certain cases and they took these issues apart in such a way that it made it difficult for the majority of Democrats to vote against their proposals.  This isn't rocket science.

    How could banning (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by itscookin on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 03:12:47 PM EST
    recissions and exclusions of folks with pre-existing conditions come up under reconciliation? They are not budget issues. They could take up the excise tax and subsidies, and funding for abortions.

    Correct (none / 0) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 03:17:32 PM EST
    In reconciliation , my understanding (none / 0) (#13)
    by jeffinalabama on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 03:19:17 PM EST
    that anything that the majority leader says is a budget issue is one. A point of order and parliamentarian ruling must be made to determine if there's a question. But there are ways to not recognize these points of order.

    I'm neither a senate historian nor parliamentarian, but I think that's how it can work. Any senate wonks find problems with what I wrote?  


    So it's my understanding based (none / 0) (#17)
    by itscookin on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 03:30:03 PM EST
    on your understanding that reconciliation is used to cheat. Great.

    How is enacting laws EXACTLY (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by pluege on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 05:01:41 PM EST
    as required in the Constitution with a simple majority "cheating" The "cheat" is the effing filibuster requiring 60 vote majorities - the filibuster is NOWHERE to be found in the Constitution.

    Right (none / 0) (#59)
    by cal1942 on Wed Jan 27, 2010 at 12:29:41 AM EST
    In fact filibuster rules are only Senate rules.  

    The Constitution does allow each house to make its own rules but a given rule is not cast forever in stone.  The old rule required two thirds to stop a filibuster.

    The old rule was at least more sensible in this respect:

    The two thirds were of members present.  Today it's 60 percent of the membership.  Makes it physically easier to filibuster.

    The percent of members present rule brought about those quorum calls in the middle of the night.  Senators sleeping on cots, etc.  Not easy to hide a filibuster as it is today.  Needless to say there were fewer filibusters in bygone days.  Waving physical presence isn't the only reason we have more filibusters today but it sure makes obstruction convenient and under the general public radar.


    Not if the arbiters say it's fair. (none / 0) (#20)
    by jeffinalabama on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 03:33:20 PM EST
    Again, this is my understanding, and it could easily be a misinterpretation. There are plenty of senate experts here, if they indicate i'm wrong, I'll take their word for it.

    Well, Jeff, I suspect (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by itscookin on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 04:06:21 PM EST
    that if ObamaCare passes this way, and there's any way that Republicans can frame this as a bending or breaking of the rules, Scott Brown won't be the only Republican MA sends to Washington. It's been awhile since anyone of our current congresscritters has had to campaign very hard.

    Maybe thhey need the exercise. (none / 0) (#31)
    by jeffinalabama on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 04:18:01 PM EST
    Also, some folks who think the dems are do-nothing liberals would gain some grudging respect for political tactics. Remember the NASCAR adage: "if you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'."

    Now I don't look at following the rules as they are written as cheating, but somebody else might.


    I had a parent quote that line to me (none / 0) (#35)
    by itscookin on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 04:26:40 PM EST
    just before I had his son expelled from school for cheating.

    as I said, (none / 0) (#38)
    by jeffinalabama on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 04:31:00 PM EST
    how can following the senate's rules be cheating?

    Cheating is cheating (none / 0) (#25)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 04:06:16 PM EST
    Tax cuts are a budget item (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by itscookin on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 04:22:33 PM EST
    It's majority rule (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by MKS on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 07:33:55 PM EST
    Two wrongs make a right (none / 0) (#29)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 04:14:50 PM EST
    for you?

    Standards, etc.


    Obama is just going to let them (none / 0) (#43)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 05:19:38 PM EST
    die, so your question is pointless.

    topic dies when nazi comes (none / 0) (#51)
    by diogenes on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 09:08:56 PM EST
    What is the name of the rule that says that all internet discussions ultimately die when someone invokes Hitler or Nazis?

    And invoking the KKK, too (none / 0) (#54)
    by Cream City on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 10:54:51 PM EST
    all in one post.  The rule may need to be renamed for he who resorts to it so prolifically here.

    I wasn't suggesting that they would (none / 0) (#39)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 04:32:00 PM EST
    come up under reconcilliation - the point was that if they took the same strategy as they SHOULD with pre-existing conditions and recissions in the normal process when they attacked the things that they can do under reconcilliation - that strategy being to take it it simple, easy to understand parts that are framed in such a way as to make anyone voting against look like a heartless cad - then they might get themselves a lot more votes than just 50 under reconcilliation.  I wasn't clear.

    The overall point is to break it down into parts that make it difficult to vote no without alienating voters regardless of which process you use - normal or reconcilliation.  The bill that came out of the Senate was much compromised by the fact that there were countless elements upon which the trouble makers could horse trade.

    KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid.  One element at a time.  That way, they could leave a lot of the garbage out because if each bill is framed correctly, it will be difficult for the GOP and conservadems to object with voter support.


    reconciliation, piece by piece, eh? (none / 0) (#58)
    by beowulf on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 11:52:35 PM EST
    Like Johnny Cash's autoworker who hand-built a car from parts he snuck out of the factory "one piece at a time", that would take years.

    There's only one reconciliation bill allowed a year.


    Well, they've lost a year then (none / 0) (#60)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jan 27, 2010 at 07:35:02 AM EST
    haven't they.  The fiscal year ends in the fall - they could have done three during this Congressional term - now they only have two.  Not like they've been speeding along thus far either.

    Watching Feingold . . . (none / 0) (#3)
    by Cream City on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 02:37:37 PM EST
    as he had a lot of problems with the bill, "philosophically," and only came aboard at the end.

    Yes, well...I have a lot of problems (none / 0) (#5)
    by oldpro on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 02:49:41 PM EST
    with Feingold..."philosophically."

    Maybe he and I should just go out on the front stoop and have a Socratic dialogue about all this political stuff.

    Better...how's about the back yard where somebody gets a black eye and a bloody nose for being the smartass neighborhood kid with lunch money to spare?


    I have my probs with my Senator, but (5.00 / 5) (#6)
    by Cream City on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 03:01:18 PM EST
    your last paragraph is over the edge.  Reminds me of an Olbermann comment about Clinton.  And it's hard to get lower than anything that reminds me of Olbermann comments about Clinton.

    Yes. (3.67 / 3) (#23)
    by Cream City on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 03:57:54 PM EST
    That was repulsive.  And it resonates for me, as I have found, in my research, more examples of threats against public officials than I would have imagined.  Plus, from other documents (for those already gone) and from talking with some of them, as well as from personal experience, I know the impact on them and on their families.

    I'm not a fan of a lot of people in public service, but it is public service -- and they and their spouses and parents and especially their progeny do not deserve it.  (Same goes for other public figures.  You ought to see the archives of threats against Hank Aaron, for example.)

    Oh, and apologies may be required to keep jobs, but they never can undo the damage.


    OT - watch Jon Stewart's send up of KO (none / 0) (#7)
    by ruffian on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 03:06:42 PM EST
    I'm sure it is on the Daily Show site. Very funny and on point.

    I don't watch KO (none / 0) (#9)
    by oldpro on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 03:11:54 PM EST
    but thanks for the tip.

    Found it, thanks -- (none / 0) (#30)
    by Cream City on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 04:17:40 PM EST
    and especially like Stewart's line that Olbermann's oh-so-special comments are "hominem and nauseam." :-)

    Btw, found it on Huffpo, with a link also to the SNL takedown of Olbermann by Ben Affleck -- in 2008, a takedown by an NBC show of an MSNBC show.  I don't watch either, anymore, so it was good to know that some have not been fooled for a while.


    Whoa. Bad analogy? (none / 0) (#8)
    by oldpro on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 03:08:57 PM EST
    It's about being a fighter for your philosophy...not just talking the talk.  Russ looks the part but he'll never be a political Rocky Graziano.

    No, it's you talking about this: (none / 0) (#10)
    by Cream City on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 03:12:09 PM EST
    somebody gets a black eye and a bloody nose

    So were you talking about you being the one beaten, or were you planning to beat up a public official?

    Over the edge.


    I 'beat up' public officials all (none / 0) (#14)
    by oldpro on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 03:21:10 PM EST
    the time...with the facts - with words - not with fists.

    It's the Irish, no doubt.


    Glad you backed off (none / 0) (#15)
    by Cream City on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 03:23:38 PM EST
    from the threat of physical beating.  Words don't lead to black eyes and bloody noses, last I looked.  

    Uncle. I give up. I'm losing touch (none / 0) (#18)
    by oldpro on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 03:31:40 PM EST
    with my native tongue.

    Time for some poetry...language rehab for me...


    Lincoln (none / 0) (#16)
    by jbindc on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 03:30:00 PM EST
    is on a roll today, and while not related to reconciliation, the fact that she and other Dems want KSM's trial moved out of NY and into a military commission show that the "party unity" may be a thing of the past....

    More Senate Democrats are pressuring the Obama administration to move Sept. 11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's trial out of New York City and into a military commission.

    Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Jim Webb of Virginia signed on to a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder condemning the administration's November announcement of a criminal trial in Manhattan.

    "Your decision to prosecute enemy combatants captured on foreign battlefields like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is without precedent in our nation's history," the senators wrote. "Given the risks and costs, it is far more logical, cost-effective, and strategically wise to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in the military commissions."

    The letter "shows that there is growing support, especially on the Democratic side, against this decision. Going on the record in a letter to the [attorney general] is a big step for both Webb and Lincoln," a Senate aide said.

    The letter is also signed by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.)

    Heh (none / 0) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 03:31:59 PM EST
    Can't happen now.

    Silly grandstanding.


    She's a goner anyway (none / 0) (#48)
    by MKS on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 07:36:18 PM EST
    What's the deal with (none / 0) (#22)
    by robotalk on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 03:56:08 PM EST
    Feingold on HCR?

    Public option, primarily. (none / 0) (#24)
    by Cream City on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 03:59:05 PM EST
    The One Thing I Have Been (none / 0) (#28)
    by bob h on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 04:13:33 PM EST
    proud of most in my life is my membership in the Democratic Party.  But people like Lincoln make me wonder if I have been a deluded fool.

    How many Republicans ever parted company with Bush over his use of reconciliation?

    Erm, *was* anyone counting on Bayh? (none / 0) (#44)
    by s5 on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 05:50:15 PM EST
    Last I checked, we were looking at reconciliation to pass healthcare fixes without Senators like Bayh.

    Coincidental Landrieu takedown by ACORN rats? (none / 0) (#52)
    by Ellie on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 10:02:00 PM EST
    This just came over the wires:

    4 charged in phone scheme at La. senator's office By Michael Kunzelman, Associated Press, Tues. January 26 2010

    NEW ORLEANS - A hero of conservatives who bruised the liberal group ACORN by posing as a pimp on hidden camera is now accused of orchestrating an attempt to tamper with phone lines at Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu's office inside a federal building.

    It's not clear what James O'Keefe, 25, and three other suspects were trying to accomplish Monday at the New Orleans office of Landrieu, who has been criticized for securing more Medicaid benefits for her state in exchange for her support on health care legislation.

    It sounded like a Watergate-style operation, but federal officials have not yet said why the men wanted to interfere with Landrieu's phones, whether they were successful, or even if the goal was political espionage. All four have been involved in conservative politics in the past.

    A staff member in the office told the FBI that two of the suspects, including the son of an acting U.S. Attorney, wore white hard harts, tool belts and flourescent vests and said they needed to fix a problem with the phone system.

    According to an FBI affidavit, O'Keefe was already sitting in the waiting area and recorded the men on his cell phone when they walked in.

    A federal law enforcement official said one of the suspects was picked up in a car a couple of blocks away with a listening device that could pick up transmissions. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the information was not part of the FBI affidavit.

    O'Keefe said "veritas," Latin for truth, as he left jail Tuesday with suspects Stan Dai and Joseph Basel, both 24. All declined to comment.

    "There will be a time for that," Dai said.

    As he got into a cab outside the jail, O'Keefe said, "The truth shall set me free." His biography on a Web site where he blogs says he works at VeritasVisuals.com, though that Web site does not currently work. [... More ...]

    Combined with the timing with the "retreat" on the health care and insurance bill, in a 2010 mid-terms election season, this incident of rat f*ckery begs a LOT of questions.

    Shades of 1972. Shades of, well, the entire Bush/Cheney era.

    One Woman's Opinion: Van Jones should never have been under-bus'd but prepped and primed for office.

    Thanks for the laugh! (none / 0) (#61)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 27, 2010 at 08:34:25 AM EST
    Olbermann's "track record"?  Seems to me if he has to "keep apologizing" for "por choices of words" then he obviously shouldn't have a TV show that a handful of people watch.

    I hope you, yourself were reminded about letting facts get in the way of a good story!

    More Dems who have reservations (none / 0) (#62)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 27, 2010 at 09:53:12 AM EST
    Reid scrounging?

    Reid's spokesman, Jim Manley, declined to comment on whether the majority leader believes he can round up 51 votes.

    "We are still discussing next steps and options with the House, the White House and our caucus," Manley said.

    Seven Senate Democrats and one independent, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, cautioned that they were wary of using reconciliation to push ahead with health care reform. Some said the maneuver would show Americans that Democrats had not learned from the Massachusetts election.

    Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu said she was "leaning against supporting" reconciliation, unless it is used narrowly. "But it would have to be completely transparent and advertised well in advance what those changes are."

    Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln, perhaps the most endangered Democrat up for reelection this year, issued a statement saying she "will fight against any attempts to push through changes" to the Senate bill through reconciliation.

    "I will not accept any last-minute efforts to force changes to health insurance reform issues through budget reconciliation, and neither will Arkansans," Lincoln said.

    Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor said reconciliation is "certainly not my first choice. I'm not real wild about using that procedure that way." If it came down to killing health care reform or using reconciliation, Pryor said he will "cross that bridge when I get to it."

    Alaska Sen. Mark Begich said he had "strong reservations." Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson said Democrats should pass a series of smaller health care bills, and Lieberman said Democrats needed to reach out one last time to Republicans before moving ahead with reconciliation.

    Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill said she would not rule out supporting reconciliation. But, she said, she was "not open" to using the maneuver for a comprehensive fix to the Senate bill. And regarding the more narrow, two-step process envisioned by Democratic leaders, McCaskill said: "I don't think it's a good idea."

    Plus Bayh and Webb.