Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA) suggested this morning that Democrats will move forward with health care reform using the reconciliation process. “I think the choreography gets a little complicated here,” Miller said, and explained that the House could pass the Senate bill before taking up a package of fixes through reconciliation:
MILLER: The House will present a reconciliation bill that’s going to be based upon many of the principles that the President put forth to correct some of the principles that the House has had with the Senate bill, that may require us to pass the Senate bill first and then send the reconciliation bill to the Senate for them to pass. I believe Senator Reid believes he can put together the votes for that and then we will have a new modern health care system in this country that can be signed by President Obama.
Media reports are suggesting that “congressional Democrats plan to begin making the case next week for a massive, Democrats-only health care plan,” but it’s still unclear if House Democrats — who have lost three votes and remain divided over federal funding for abortion — have enough votes to pass comprehensive reform.
At her weekly briefing today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rejected the GOP’s “itsy bitsy spider, teeny weeny” approach to reform and told reporters that the President’s bill bridged many of the differences between the House and Senate legislation. Still, she implied that the success of a vote in the House would depend on the reconciliation package put together by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). “I believe we have good prospects of passing legislation in light of the recognition the President gave to the House members,” Pelosi said. “Leader Reid will see what he can get the votes for and then we’ll go from there.”
Miller’s suggestion that the House would pass the Senate bill first also contradicts a previous assessment by top Pelosi aide Wendell Primus, who argued last week that the House would not pass the Senate bill until a reconciliation package is adopted.