The Spectacle Blog

Top House Dem: Scrap Senate Bill and Start Over

By on 12.23.09 | 1:24PM

Rep. Louise Slaughter, chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, has declared that the Senate bill does not represent real reform and cannot be reconciled with the version that passed the House of Representatives. Instead, she recommended killing the Senate bill and starting all over.

"The Senate health care bill is not worthy of the historic vote that the House took a month ago," Slaughter wrote in an opinion piece appearing on CNN's website today.

She complained that without the presence of a public option, the bill won't lower costs and would represent a subsidy to private insurance.

"Although the art of legislating involves compromise, I believe the Senate went off the rails when it agreed with the Obama Administration to water down the reform bill and no longer include the public option," she wrote.

She also complained that the bill would allow insurers to charge higher premiums to older people and does not repeal the antitrust exemption enjoyed by insurers.

She concludes:

Supporters of the weak Senate bill say "just pass it -- any bill is better than no bill."

I strongly disagree -- a conference report is unlikely to sufficiently bridge the gap between these two very different bills.

It's time that we draw the line on this weak bill and ask the Senate to go back to the drawing board. The American people deserve at least that.

The statement is a headache for Democratic leadership at a time when they are on the verge of passing a bill in the Senate. In the first go around, the House bill passed by a narrow 220 to 215 vote, so Speaker Nancy Pelosi only has three votes to spare. The absence of the Stupak abortion language is already going to cost her some votes among pro-life Democrats (as well as the lone Republican to vote for it, Joseph Cao), so any votes she loses on the left would have to be made up elsewhere. Any compromise to attract liberal members of the House could upset the delicate balance that achieved 60 votes in the Senate. On the other hand Rep. Jason Altmir, a Democrat who voted against the bill the first time, said "a lot" of Blue Dog Democrats could support something along the lines of the Senate bill this time around. 

Via the Hill.

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