Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Health Care Debate Moves to Senate; House Wounds Linger

Last night, when the U.S. House passed landmark legislation on health care, it had an air of finality, but the fight is only halfway done.

Now that bill the so-called "Reconciliation Bill" the House passed moves on to the Senate. The Senate can add amendments to the bill or pass it as is. If the bill passes, then reconciliation worked. If it does not, the House has to take action up on that reconciled bill. It's a confusing process, and, frankly, I don't even understand all of it.

The long and short of it...while Nancy Pelosi has proven to be one of the best Speakers of the House in history, Harry Reid has been a weak Senate Majority Leader. He too often allows the minority in the Senate to have an undue influence at times, in my opinion. You know the Republicans will sharpen their amendment pencils and go to work just to delay this bill even longer.

Plus, the rancor from the House debate is not yet settled. I was appalled by the lack of decorum showed by members on both sides of the aisle on Sunday night, but I though John Boehner came off particularly poorly. His "Hell No" speech sounded more like the crazy guy on the corner that yells at everybody when they walk by. It was not the kind of decorum someone would expect from the Speaker of the House, which Boehner could potentially be if (heaven forbid) the Republicans regain House control.

Then, there was the "baby killer" comment from Rep. Randy Neugebauer, a Texas Republican, which was yelled out as Rep. Bart Stupak, a pro-life Democrat from Michigan, was smacking down a Republican attempt to derail the bill on abortion grounds. That was just sickening, and politicians on both sides of the aisle are condemning it.

All of this doesn't give me much hope that the Senate fight will be much better. You can bet that Mitch McConnell and the Republican caucus will be at its rhetorical worst when the bill comes in front of them this week. They will yell and scream, but it's important to remember that much of what they are countering with is made up or overblown.

With Republicans now attempting to run on a repeal health care position, is it time to pull together a proposed Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing everyone the right to quality health care? Am I out of line here? I mean, that's what the Republicans do when a law is passed that they are afraid of being repealed.

Well, I've been rambling a bit here. Let's hope that the debate goes well, and, in the end, we end up with a bill we can all be proud of from the Senate.

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