Federal Healthcare Update

March 22, 2010

Pardon Our Dust

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By Mona Mohib
Yesterday, the House voted in two separate votes to approve health care reform legislation. In a vote of 219-212, the House approved the health care reform bill that was passed by the Senate on Christmas Eve. Then, in a vote of 220-211, the House approved the reconciliation bill that will modify the Senate bill.  These votes will send the Senate bill to the President to be signed tomorrow, and the reconciliation bill to the Senate, where Senate Democrats will try to pass the bill through the reconciliation process.
A compromise deal on abortion funding brought in several key votes at the last minute. Under the terms of the deal, President Obama will issue an executive order clarifying that the federal money provided by the bill can not be used for abortions.  
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said he will take up the package of changes shortly. The bill will be considered under the reconciliation process, which will allow Democrats to pass the bill with a simple majority and preclude the possibility of a Republican filibuster. Today, the Senate parliamentarian will meet with Democratic and Republican leadership to discuss the rules for this procedure. Under the Byrd rule, all provisions of the bill must have a budgetary impact. Republicans are likely to object to provisions of the reconciliation bill under this rule, and if the provisions are found to be in violation of the Byrd rule, they will be stricken from the bill. There will likely be at least two days of debate and two days of votes, which means there could be a vote in the Senate as early as Friday or Saturday.