Archive for the ‘Legislation’ Category

President Obama signs the Health Care and Student Loan Reconciliation Bill

March 30, 2010

President Obama put the final signatures on the health care legislation today, and it’s now finally signed, sealed and delivered. After more than a year with heated debate, Democrats are badly bruised, and the Obama Administration is still waiting for a lasting bump in the tracking polls. What are your thoughts on the final legislation?

President Obama Signs the Health Care Bill

March 23, 2010

Today, in the Blue Room of the White House, President Obama signed the Senate bill passed by the House 219-212 on Sunday. The bill contains the so-called Cornhusker Kickback, Gator Aid, and the Louisiana Purchase (which will remain after the Senate’s reconciliation). In other words, the job isn’t finished yet, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has signed a letter stating he’ll finish the job in the Senate with a simple majority (i.e. reconciliation). Signed, sealed, but not yet quite delivered.

(Official White House photos by Pete Souza)

The House passes the Senate Health Care Bill

March 22, 2010

On Motion to Concur in Senate Amendments (H R 3590): 219-212

On Passage of Reconciliation Act of 2010 (H R 4872): 220-211

In the end, the Democrats not only got 216 votes, but 219 (and 220). This way, no single Democrat can be accused by his or her opponent in the upcoming midterm elections of having been the single vote who tipped the tally in the favor of the Democrats.

Official White House photographer Pete Souza took this picture of President Obama in the Roosevelt Room during the passage of the bill (with a picture of FDR – who passed Social Security – on the wall to the left):

In his remarks following the passage of the bill, President Obama stated that:

Tonight’s vote is not a victory for any one party. It’s a victory for them. It’s a victory for the American people, and it’s a victory for common sense. … We proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things. … We proved that this government — a government of the people and by the people — still works for the people.

Politico writes that the passage of the bill provides President Obama with an immense and immediate boost, while calling it a split decision for House Democrats. Townhall, on the other hand, writes that:

Strict partisanship has carried the day, and our health care system will never be the same.

Finally, take the time to watch House Minority Leader John Boehner’s remarks on the House floor:

We have failed to listen to America. And We have failed to reflect the will of our constituents.

Even if you disagree with the content of the health care reform awaiting the signature of President Obama, the fact remains: History was made today.

Read more here: Washington Post, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Roll Call, Washington Examiner, The New Republic.

(Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Getting to 216

March 18, 2010

Portrayed as the most important week in Barack Obama’s presidency thus far, with “the fate of his presidency” hinging on the up-coming health reform vote in the House, the big question remains: Does Nancy Pelosi have the votes?

Part A of that answer is “no she doesn’t”, but part B is “she’ll get there soon.”

Several “no” votes have already pledged that they’ll vote “yes” the next time around. The most prominent shift so far: Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). Appearing on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” on March 8, Kucinich stated that “without a robust public option that covers enough people to make a tangible market impact, it’s not worth making any effort to woo his vote” [paraphrased]. With that said, the wooing began, and after a one on one with the President, Kucinich stated on March 17 that:

This is a defining moment for whether or not we’ll have any opportunity to move off square one on the issue of health care. And so even though I don’t like the bill, I’ve made a decision to support it in the hopes that we can move towards a more comprehensive approach once this legislation is done.

While Kucinich has swallowed some pride and moved a few steps to the center (while at the same time getting a lot of press attention, some face time with the President and a demonstration of his political importance), the key opponents to the Senate bill remain on the right side of the political spectrum within the Democratic Caucus. Abortion opponents – led by Representative Bart Stupak (D-MI) – have pledged to oppose the Senate bill because it doesn’t, in their view, go as far as it should (i.e. the House bill). Stupak originally had about a dozen votes behind him, but he recently lost one of them when Representative James Oberstar (D-MN) stated that he would vote yes. Does this signal the beginning of the end of Stupak’s no-bloc, or are the ones remaining intent on sticking with the position on abortion originally advocated by the Catholic leadership?

In the end, the most important question isn’t “Does Nancy Pelosi have the votes?”, but “Who wants to be the single vote standing in the way of health reform?”

“Yae” or “nay”, Democrats running for re-election in November will have to deal with the bill no matter what. They either have to run with it, or run from it. It’s not yet clear which option is the best one.

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