Those are Nancy Pelosi’s words today on why she wants to get health reform done as quickly as possible.
But even among Hill reporters, there’s some confusion over what procedurally will happen this week. Democratic leaders, including Pelosi, are keeping quiet about their precise parliamentary strategy for three reasons. One, if they telegraph exactly what procedural steps they plan to take, Republicans will be able to tailor a more effective opposition strategy. Two, if Democrats lay out exactly what steps they want to take and can’t achieve those steps, this will look like failure. Three, there are a few different strategies Democrats can pursue procedurally and Pelosi may want to keep all options open so she can choose a path based on what her members want.
Over at the New Republic, health reform policy guru Jonathan Cohn has outlined what I agree are the three more likely scenarios for the week.
1) The House would vote on the two bills separately. Upon passage, the
Senate bill would be ready for the president’s signature. The amendments,
meanwhile, would go to the Senate for approval there. Call this the
“Schoolhouse Rock” option.
2) The House would vote once. The vote would be on the amendments. But with
that vote, the House would “deem” the Senate bill passed. (Yes, it can do
that.) At that point, the main bill would be ready to go to the president for his
signature, while the amendments would go to the Senate for consideration
3) The House would vote once, just like in option (2). But in this case, the
House would deem the Senate bill passed only after the Senate had approved
the amendments. Once the Senate approved the amendments, then–and only
then–could the main bill go to the president for signature.
Fellow pro-reform policy wonk Ezra Klein, at the Washington Post, hates options 2 and 3. His reasons here.