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GOP Readies Wave of Objections to Senate Health Care Bill

By The Hill, The Hill - September 2, 2009

Sen. Judd Gregg has hundreds of procedural objections ready for a healthcare plan Democrats want to speed through the Senate.

Gregg (N.H.), the senior Republican on the Budget Committee, told The Hill in a recent interview that Republicans will wage a vicious fight if Democrats try to circumvent Senate rules and use a budget maneuver to pass a trillion-dollar healthcare plan with a simple majority. The death of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) leaves Democrats with 59 Senate seats "” one shy of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster. That, combined with the pushback from Republican negotiators, has prompted Democratic leaders to look more closely at using budget reconciliation to push a healthcare overhaul through. The maneuver was originally intended to help reduce the federal deficit by allowing spending cuts and tax increases to pass by majority vote, but it has since been used to fast-track wider-scope legislation, such as former President George W. Bush's 2001 tax cuts. Republicans, however, warn that if Democrats attempt the maneuver, their healthcare bill will end up looking like Swiss cheese. Gregg said that Republicans could file "hundreds"� of points-of-order objections to the bill, each one requiring 60 votes to waive. "We are very much engaged in taking a hard look at our rights under reconciliation,"� Gregg said. "It would be very contentious."� Gregg's opposition is particularly notable given that seven months ago, President Barack Obama tapped him to serve as Commerce secretary. Gregg first accepted the Cabinet appointment, but later withdrew before being confirmed over policy differences. Gregg is also taking exception to comments made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who said it would be possible to create a broad government-run health insurance program under budgetary reconciliation. Gregg said the only way for the so-called public option to have the necessary budgetary impact to warrant procedural protection would be if the program were "very aggressive in setting rates, price controls and rationing,"� an option that might cause conservative Blue Dog Democrats in the House to bolt. Budget experts say it is too soon to tell whether Gregg will be able to carve up the Democrats' healthcare plan.William Hoagland, a longtime senior aide to Senate Republican leaders on budget issues, said it will depend on how Democrats draft their final bill and how the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scores it. "At the end of the day it comes down to green-eyeshade examinations of the bill and ultimately to the Senate parliamentarian,"� said Hoagland, who now works for CIGNA, a global health-services company. "There are a lot of gray areas, right up until the end."� Hoagland said, however, that he did not see how a plan to set up membership-run healthcare co-ops could survive a Republican objection."On the co-op plan, those particular proposals as currently drafted, it's an authorization for start-up and capitalizing the co-ops,"� he said, drawing a distinction between an authorization to spend and an actual allocation of funds, arguing that as a result the proposal "has no budgetary consequences. It doesn't spend money or save money."�If Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin rules the budgetary impact of a provision is negligible next to its larger purpose, he would likely uphold an objection that it violates the so-called Byrd rule, a section of the 1974 Budget Act named after Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.). Democrats would need 60 votes to set aside such a point of order. The CBO, which has disappointed Democrats several times this year with its cost estimates, and the Joint Committee on Taxation would assess the budgetary impact of various measures. Co-ops have emerged as the leading Democratic alternative to a government-run health insurance option as a way to pressure private insurance companies to lower their rates. Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.) and Kent Conrad (N.D.) are among Democrats who favor co-ops. Hoagland said that barring insurance companies from discriminating on the basis of pre-existing conditions and setting regulations governing insurance for individuals and small-business employees would likely be found to have no budgetary impact and thus require 60 votes to be approved by the Senate. But Hoagland said that "smart staff"� may find ways to draft the public option or co-ops in a way that enables them to pass under reconciliation.The procedural obstacles that Democrats would find in the way of many elements of their healthcare reform agenda would require them to pass two bills if they used reconciliation. Proposals that fell to Gregg's procedural objections would need to pass in a "sidecar"� bill that must win the support of 60 senators.Democrats argue that provisions such as banning discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions and promoting healthier habits could win broad approval. But some Republicans say that ramming major elements of reform through the chamber with a simple majority would create enough animosity to kill the accompanying bill. Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said in a recent television interview that liberals are "going to insist that the Democrat leadership divide the legislation and give them the part that they want and then give Republicans a chance to vote on another piece of it."Kyl predicted that Republicans would not abet that plan by voting for a second bill: "Of course that will be no deal because you'll have the government-run insurance and the other liberal parts, including the tax increases in the part that the Democrats would plan to pass with just a bare majority of votes."� Hoagland agreed with Kyl: "I think it will poison the water and I think the sidecar will have difficulty getting through the United States Senate."�

 

Source: http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/56897-gop-objections-await-healthcare-plan The contents of this site are © 2009 Capitol Hill Publishing Corp., a subsisiary of News Communications, Inc. Comments (81)PAGE |1|2| ... |4|5|>Harry Reid is pathetic. He will stop at nothing to get the liberal agenda accomplished. Thats why NV voters are turning away from this once called moderate. He is now a liberal tried and true. nancy and Teddy would be proud. Too bad for Nevada - his tactics need to be stopped in 2010.BY dean O on 01/09/2009 at 07:45I support whatever plan the President supports. We need Health Care Reform and we need to support the President. The right wing conservatives and the left wing liberals need to understand that they are not always going to get it their way. Everyone has some skin in this game. They are being selfish and self serving…lets show some moderation here and each give a little to get a health care bill in place that is endorsed and supported by our President.BY sandy lee on 01/09/2009 at 10:39

The right wing conservatives and left wing liberals have to realize that they have to each give a little to reach a Health Care Bldg. They are both WRONG AND self serving and selfish to want it all their way. Lets come to an agreement and stay away from our idealogical politics/philosophies…it is not all about them but those in the country who need and dont have and cant afford health care. Stop being so selfish. SUpport whateve plan the Prez endorses. And stop worrying about the next election…or all of you will lose your seats that are arguing these self serving arguments. Republicans beware you are digging a hole for someone else to fall in and are going to fall into it yourself. Stop this obstructionist behavior and think about the citizens of this country…not just the rich.

BY sandra hodapp on 01/09/2009 at 10:44

I want universal health care. I'm tied of unconcern people. I'm tired to Repulicans hating on Obama. Work with him for once in your life. It's not going to KILL you. Keep thinking that America is going to vote for self concern people. We need to pass health reform and help those who can not or will not help themselves. It is charity in some cases but it also is what is right. Are we really divided because of Health Care or is something else driving this. I really hate to say this but I really believe it has to do with the concept those who have will continue to have and those that don't have will continue to receive nothing—what a shame.

BY pbf on 01/09/2009 at 10:49What do the labor unions have to do with establishing tax codes? Well, if this tax would remove money from the system that would otherwise go to hiring union labor I'd be all for it.What would be the effect on trading transactions by mutual funds, pension funds, IRAs, 401(k)s, college funds? This is a direct tap into the retirement money of people who have worked all their lives or who are now working to build some retirement funds so they are not living in destitution when their employer kicks them into the street for being too old or too expensive.BY tramky on 01/09/2009 at 10:51I agree with PBF that the real divide in this country is between the healthcare haves and have-nots. The haves are afraid that they will have to give something up to help the have-nots, despite the rapid disappearance of their access to health care, insured or not. The Republicans don't care about anything except defeating Obama and regaining power. Shame on them.BY Ken Terry on 01/09/2009 at 15:02I am not willing to give up my private healthcare so that others can have their car free at the expense of my own health. Sorry, that is the simple truth.BY Don on 01/09/2009 at 15:10Beg to differ, PBF. This bill could kill us, yes. And that has nothing to do with hating Obama.All the hate I see is going the other way, from him to us. I am all for reform, the problem is, this isn't it. This bill (HR3200) is a farce that will destroy any semblance of privacy left to US citizens, cost us more, and for the additional cost, will provide us with less care.The authors of HR3200 could have given us a reasonable bill, but they chose instead to shove this incomprehensibl e monstrosity down our unwilling throats.Oh, and another thing. Please learn to spell.BY Richard on 01/09/2009 at 15:34We already have "universal healthcare" for this countries Native Americans;The IHS attempts to provide health care to American Indians and Alaska Natives in one of two ways. It runs 48 hospitals and 230 clinics for which it hires doctors, nurses, and staff and decides what services will be provided. Or it contracts with tribes under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act passed in 1975. In this case, the IHS provides funding for the tribe, which delivers health care to tribal members and makes its own decisions about what services to provide.The IHS spends about $2,100 per Native American each year, which is considerably below the $6,000 spent per capita on health care across the U.S. But IHS spending per capita is about on par with Finland, Japan, Spain and other top 20 industrialized countriesBY olddog on 01/09/2009 at 15:41If the Republicans want to regain some credibility, please, for once, work with the president and pass this health care bill and show one ounce of dignity toward 310 million Americans. Why is opposition good for the GOP? They have lost the election, what more can they lose?BY Ben on 01/09/2009 at 15:42PAGE |1|2| ... |4|5|>Add Comment

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The right wing conservatives and left wing liberals have to realize that they have to each give a little to reach a Health Care Bldg. They are both WRONG AND self serving and selfish to want it all their way. Lets come to an agreement and stay away from our idealogical politics/philosophies…it is not all about them but those in the country who need and dont have and cant afford health care. Stop being so selfish. SUpport whateve plan the Prez endorses. And stop worrying about the next election…or all of you will lose your seats that are arguing these self serving arguments. Republicans beware you are digging a hole for someone else to fall in and are going to fall into it yourself. Stop this obstructionist behavior and think about the citizens of this country…not just the rich.

I want universal health care. I'm tied of unconcern people. I'm tired to Repulicans hating on Obama. Work with him for once in your life. It's not going to KILL you. Keep thinking that America is going to vote for self concern people. We need to pass health reform and help those who can not or will not help themselves. It is charity in some cases but it also is what is right. Are we really divided because of Health Care or is something else driving this. I really hate to say this but I really believe it has to do with the concept those who have will continue to have and those that don't have will continue to receive nothing—what a shame.

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