Rep. Barney Frank is not a wobbly moderate in a marginal district, but a liberal Democrat who has been supportive of the health care push. And that’s why this statement below, which essentially rules out all of the options being discussed for pushing through Obamacare, deals a potentially fatal blow to the legislation.
The following was read on MSNBC by Rachel Maddow, and I transcribed it off the screen:
“I have two reactions to the election in Massachusetts. One, I am disappointed. Two, I feel strongly that the Democratic majority in Congress must respect the process and make no effort to bypass the electoral results. If Martha Coakley had won, I believe we could have worked out a reasonable compromise between the House and Senate health care bills. But since Scott Brown has won and the Republicans now have 41 votes in the Senate, that approach is no longer appropriate. I am hopeful that some Republican Senators will be willing to discuss a revised version of health care reform because I do not think that the country would be well-served by the health care status quo. But our respect for democratic procedures must rule out any effort to pass a health care bill as if the Massachusetts election had not happened. Going forward, I hope there will be a serious effort to change the Senate rule which means that 59 votes are not enough to pass major legislation, but those are the rules by which the health care bill was considered, and it would be wrong to change them in the middle of the process.”
UPDATE: Frank’s comments rule out delaying the seating of Brown and ramming a bill through in the meantime, rule out simply passing the Senate bill as is, and rule out passing it through the Senate using the reconciliation process. The only “hope” Frank holds is a compromise in the Senate with Republicans, but I’m not sure how much appetite there would be for dragging on the process for what could be months, even if there were some magical accord that could be reached between the two parties. And if President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid try to ignore Frank and push ahead anyway, the comments he made are a political goldmine to Republicans. Plus, the fact that Frank felt emboldened to jump out with this statement so soon after the results suggets he’s probably expressing the private views of other members. Simply put, it will be difficult for Democrats to revive Obamacare after tonight.