House speaker sounds confident of reform passage, even with a big loss for Democrats possibly on the horizon
BY ALEX KOPPELMAN
Given what looks like the impending loss of the party’s Senate supermajority, Democrats have reason to be down in the dumps about healthcare reform. But if that’s the way House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s feeling, she’s not showing it publicly.
“Let’s remove all doubt, we will have healthcare one way or another,” Pelosi said during an event in San Francisco on Monday. “Certainly the dynamic would change depending on what happens in Massachusetts. Just the question about how we would proceed. But it doesn’t mean we won’t have a health care bill.”
There is one way to pass the bill, even without 60 votes in the Senate, that’s getting a lot of attention now. But Pelosi probably won’t like it, and neither will a fair amount of her members.
The procedure in question would involve simply having the House vote on the bill that the Senate has already passed. That would mean avoiding yet another cloture vote in the Senate, one Democrats would be likely to lose if their caucus is down to 59 members after the special election in Massachusetts on Tuesday.
House liberals will be upset about this idea, and progressive activists would likely be angry as well, but it may well be the only option left, and Democrats are reportedly leaning towards it. On Monday night, the New York Times reported: “The White House and Democratic Congressional leaders, scrambling for a backup plan to rescue their health care legislation if Republicans win the special election in Massachusetts on Tuesday, are preparing to ask House Democrats to approve the Senate version of the bill, which would send the measure directly to President Obama for his signature.”