By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Congressional leaders are indicating that they plan to bypass a formal conference committee to hash out health care reform differences between the House and Senate, and will probably craft the final bill out of the public eye and behind closed doors.
By avoiding a formal conference process, the two chambers can avoid a series of procedural hurdles that could be hurled against them by opponents of the bill and greatly speed up the process of getting a bill to the president’s desk by the time he delivers his state-of-the-union address in early February.
It would also speed up the contentious process of trying to reconcile the House bill, which was passed on Nov. 7, and the very different Senate version which was passed in a controversial Christmas Eve vote. Issues such as a public plan, abortion funding, cuts to Medicare, increased taxes and controversial sweetheart deals that have angered state governors, all threaten to derail the process.
Under normal conditions, these issues would be hashed out by a committee chairman and other senior lawmakers from both parties and Houses who would debate the bills publicly while more meaningful negotiations continue behind closed door.
However, in the new plan, this process would be skipped and aides say that the final compromise talks would essentially be a three-way negotiation between top Democrats in the House and Senate and the White House. One option would be to craft an amended version of the Senate bill that could pass in the House, then give it back to the Senate where a 60-vote majority would be needed in order for it to pass.
Opponents of the bill are vowing to keep fighting to stop the bill.
“There is widespread opposition to this monstrosity,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). “This fight isn’t over. My colleagues and I will work to stop this bill from becoming law.”
“It appears the Democrats wish to do this outside of public scrutiny to speed up the process in hopes of getting it done and signed into law before the President makes his State of the Union speech,” said Rep. Michele Bachman (R-MN). “This is far from Mr. Obama’s pledge to keep the health care reform process open and transparent.”
© All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace® http://www.womenofgrace.com