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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Meanwhile, Back in the House….

With so much attention riveted on the reaction of a handful of senators to the latest attempted compromise on health care reform, it’s easy to forget that House Democrats will have something to say on the subject if and when a bill finally gets out of the upper chamber. Moreover, there were some rumors circulating earlier this week that Speaker Nancy Pelosi intended to bring a Senate-passed bill directly to the House floor for an up-or-down vote, avoiding the normal House-Senate conference to work out differences (and on a bill this complex, there will be many).
But now leaders of the House Progressive Caucus–most notably co-chair Raul Grijalva of AZ–are serving notice that they and other House Democrats may demand a conference. That’s not terribly surprising in itself. After all, most Progressive Caucus members have already had to back down from earlier promises to vote against any health reform bill that didn’t include a “robust” public option, defined as one that made payments according to Medicare rates. From their point of view, they’ve made if anything more concessions than anyone should have expected. Blithely accepting a bill that does not contain a public option (in the normal meaning of the term), without a conference, undoubtedly seems like far too much to ask.
Still, the necessity of a conference adds weeks and a lot of public controversy to the timetable for enactment of health care reform, on top of the time that Republican delaying tactics will consume. So everyone should buckle up for a long ride into 2010.

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