What’s Next For Health Care Reform

The short version: GOP obstructionism, an around-the-clock schedule and a possible Christmas Eve vote.

The long version:

Sen. Jim DeMint said Thursday he is prepared to use every procedural tool to delay a vote on the Democratic healthcare legislation.

That’s not surprising–the GOP just tried to force the Senate to read the entirety of the 767-page Sanders amendment, a farce that only ended when Sen. Sanders pulled his amendment from consideration.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the GOP is dispensing with even the appearance of trying to govern this country. Our health care system is broken– to the tune of 45,000 unnecessary deaths a year–and yet all the GOP wants to do is shut the health care reform process down.

They’re not even pushing an alternate reform plan–they just want to kill health care reform at any cost, even if that cost is American lives.

Moving on:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is planning to schedule votes around the clock over the next week to meet a deadline of passing the bill by Christmas. Without the cooperation of Republicans, the marathon schedule would end with a vote on Christmas Eve.

Reid hopes that Republicans will waive some of the procedural formalities so senators are not forced to spend the evening before Christmas milling about the Senate floor.

But DeMint (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Republican Steering Committee and a leader of the conservative opposition, told The Hill he will not yield back any time.

[…]

For the Senate to pass healthcare reform by Christmas, as Reid has pledged, the Senate leader would then have to file take a series of necessary procedural steps that would force votes all week at odd hours.

Reid must file motions to end debate on: the manager’s amendment, which includes all the final-hour changes made to win the support of 60 Democratic senators; the 2,074-page healthcare bill, which lawmakers have been debating on the floor; and on the underlying legislative vehicle, the Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act.

Republicans may force Senate clerks to read the entire manager’s amendment but that will not disrupt the schedule. That’s because reading the amendment, which will be shorter than the 2,074-page healthcare bill, is not expected to take more than eight hours.

[All emphasis mine]

In other words, it’s going to be a long and difficult process.

A Christmas Eve vote wouldn’t be too bad–at least health care reform would get a vote before the end of the year–but the fact that it’s even come to this point shows just how unserious the Republican Party is.

Instead of cooperating and negotiating and working to produce a good health care reform plan that everyone can agree on, the GOP decided from day 1 that they were going to make the process as difficult and convoluted as possible.

This isn’t about health care reform–I wish it was–it’s about the GOP trying to deny the Democrats the political victory that would come from solving our broken health care system. That’s the source of their obstructionism and it’s utterly and completely shameful.

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