Monday, March 15, 2010

Health reform: a timetable and a bellwether

Speaker Pelosi tells us that the House will vote on both the Senate bill and the sidecar reconciliation bill this week. A memo from Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), sent to House staffers and obtained by Chris Frates at, offers the rest of us a good timetable for how events may unfold this week. Here’s the timetable, according to the memo:


---Congressional Budget Office publishes final "score" on legislative language (not yet, at this writing, but check here).
---House Budget Committee must approve use of reconciliation process (scheduled for Monday).

After those two steps are accomplished, here's what should come next:

---House Rules Committee approves the procedures that will be followed for the debate on the House floor.
--A Manager’s amendment will be posted online. After that, the plan is for 72 hours to pass without a vote.

Van Hollen predicts a vote may occur Friday or Saturday.

Looking for a bellwether as to how the ultimate vote will go? As good a sign as any might be Bart Stupak’s mood.

Rep. Stupak (D-MI), you recall, led a group of anti-abortion Democrats in demanding (and getting) what some would see as restrictive language in the House bill on abortion funding** via the health exchanges.

Stupak has been adamant that he can’t support the Senate’s approach to the contentious abortion issue.  On Friday afternoon, however, when talking to National Review Online, Stupak sounded down, like a man who thought it unlikely he could hold his coalition together. So, if Stupak’s still down in the dumps this week, it may mean the Democrats might actually pass the darn thing.

**You can’t use the reconciliation bill to address the abortion issue further; go here if you want to know why. Go here if you want every possible nuance and contingency as to why this is so. Go here if you want something just as complex but much more fun. Go Cats.


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