This morning, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) suggested that Democrats have enough votes to pass the Senate health care bill in the House if President Obama’s ‘fixes’ were adopted using reconciliation. Clyburn stressed that he had “not seen what the president’s proposals are” but said that the House could pass the bill with more than 219 votes if what he’s been hearing about the bill is accurate:
CLYBURN: Well, you know, I do believe that we got to 219 before. We got there with some people holding out for things we have not gotten in the Senate plan and other things.
TODD: You think there is more there.
CLYBURN: So I do believe there is more fertile soil today than there was when we first took this up.
The White House released its bill ahead of the bipartisan health care summit to present a unified Democratic front, but the real audience for the legislation aren’t Republicans (they’re not voting for health care), it’s Congressional Democrats who have resisted passing the Senate health care bill until the senate improved its affordability standards and increased the threshold on the excise tax. The Obama plan attempts to bridge the gap between the House and Senate proposals without adopting progressive measures like the national exchange and the public option. The plan also fails to endorse the House’s push for repealing insurers’ special anti-trust exemption.
The President’s moves to the left are not insignificant, but it’s not clear if it will be enough to sway reluctant progressives, angry at the White House for almost leaving reform at the alter in the aftermath of the Massachusetts election. So far, House Democrats have only acknowledged the release. The chairmen of the three House committees with jurisdiction over health policy, Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY), George Miller (D-CA), and Henry Waxman (D-CA) issued a general statement praising Obama for “moving in the right direction.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also only went so far as to say that Obama’s plan “contains positive elements from the House and Senate-passed bills.”
Clyburn’s assessment is the only ringing endorsement for the plan in a sea of lukewarm support. Here’s to hoping it doesn’t get any colder.