BATTLE OF THE SENATE – AT 8:27 P.M. ET: As John Hinderaker writes in the post below, Republicans haven't yet begun to fight on health care. ABC's "The Note" has a prediction on the next battle action:
ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf reports: The House bill has not yet passed and already we are seeing the reconciliation fight start in the Senate.
Senate Republicans say they can get the whole package of reconciliation fixes – the fix-its that make the Senate plan palatable to House Democrats - thrown out with a trump card procedural motion. And they say Democrats are slow-walking a decision from the parliamentarian until the House passes the Senate bill.
That means the Senate bill, which everyone in the House seems to universally hate, will be the law of the land.
This afternoon Senate Republicans say Democrats won’t meet with them and the parliamentarian – a charge Democratic staffers call “absurd”. (The timing of the allegation also works as a last-minute, probably too-late message to wavering House Democrats).
Bottom line: Don’t expect the health reform debate to end tonight even though the health reform bill will become law as soon as Obama signs the Senate bill.
Should the House pass the Senate bill and the package of reconciliation fix-its tonight, Senators will take over the reconciliation fix-its as soon as Tuesday.
That will set in motion a week or longer parliamentary floor battle with points of order, references to the budget act, the Byrd Rule and more.
If Republicans can get the parliamentarian to agree with them even once, whatever ultimately passes the Senate will have to go back to the House. And Democrats in the House quietly admit that its very likely they will have to vote again on the reconciliation fixes at some point down the road.
COMMENT: What an incredible situation. The whole thing can still come down. Stand by. I haven't seen legislative combat like this in my lifetime. It's true that the extension of the draft passed the House by only one vote in 1940, but the continuing controversy over that was ended for us by the Japanese on December 7, 1941.
The closest thing to what we're seeing now was the civil rights debate in 1964. But the civil rights package had bipartisan support then. This health bill has zero bipartisan support.
I am absolutely curious to see how the American people, in polls, react to what's going on.
March 21, 2010