In order to become law, a health care bill needs to secure a majority on the House Ways & Means Committee and also the House Energy & Commerce Committee and also the House Education & Labor Committee and, of course, the full United States House of Representatives. It also needs a majority on the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Health Education Labor & Pensions Committee. And, of course, it needs a majority in the full United States Senate. Then thanks to the calvinball rules we’ve been playing with for the past 25 years, it actually needs a sixty vote supermajority to pass then Senate. After that, it would be subjected to presidential veto.
That’s a number of legislative hurdles that goes far beyond anything else found in major democracies. Naturally, key Republican Senators have decided that what’s needed is more calvinball.
First, Mike Enzi:
Sen. Mike Enzi (R., Wyo.) said the Democrats would be making a mistake by forging ahead on their own. “We need to get a bill that 75 or 80 senators can support,” he said. “If the Democrats choose to shut out Republicans and moderate Democrats, their plan will fail because the American people will have no confidence in it.”
Second, Chuck Grassley:
“It’s not about getting a lot of Republicans. It’s about getting a lot of Democrats and Republicans,” Grassley said. “We ought to be focusing on getting 80 votes.”
On Wednesday, Grassley made clear that he remains committed to pursuing a health-care bill, provided it does not “make things worse” for people who are happy with their insurance or add to swollen budget deficits. His remarks echoed those of other key Republicans — including Sens. Olympia J. Snowe (Maine) and Mike Enzi (Wyo.), the other GOP negotiators on the finance panel — as well as some Democrats, who are quietly urging Obama and congressional leaders to lower their expectations for what can be accomplished this year in the interest of building momentum for future reform.
I note that if the people who wrote that story, Lori Montgomery and Perry Bacon Jr., were interested in producing a well-informed audience they might have noted that the House bill Grassley opposes meets both of his criteria for supporting a bill. They might have noted that the Senate HELP bill Grassley opposes meets both of his criteria for supporting a bill. They might even have speculated that Grassley is just lying when he says he wants to vote for a bill, noting that his nominal desires are contracted by his actual actions. But we don’t live in a world where Washington Post articles can be reliably expected to be informative.