“While the focus shifts to legislation on jobs, party leaders are taking advantage of a cooling-off period to strategize, seek a new compromise and improve the public's opinion of the legislation” begins a Los Angeles Times article from this past weekend.
It has been a widely articulated theory that many Democrats are facing an impossible choice of getting beat-up in the election over a “yes” vote they already cast on the initial round of reform, versus having nothing to show for it at the end of the day. Many see their only option as passing something and then attempting to exalt and defend the bill later.
While it appears that healthcare, for the time being, has taken a backseat to other policy concerns such as job creation, Democrats have nonetheless been continuing to meet in order to strategize on how best to move healthcare forward. It has been reported that there may even be hope of agreement on a procedural path forward by the end of this week.
Although Speaker Pelosi (D-Ca.) has repeatedly said that she does not have the votes for the Senate Bill as is, there is the general feeling that a modified Senate bill offers the Democrats their best shot. Rep. Connolly (D-Va.) was quoted saying "The more they think about it, the more they can appreciate that it may be a viable . . . vehicle for getting healthcare reform done."
This being said, in the current political climate, many (at least up to 8) Democratic Senators are squeamish about the idea of using reconciliation to make changes to make the effort palatable to the House. And with Speaker Pelosi having already lost some votes, is very likely to lose more if certain important elements are not resolved. These issues include abortion funding as well as the tax on “Cadillac Plans.”
While the House would surely like to drop the tax altogether, this would create a need for new revenue as well as make it tough to get the bill past the Senate’s fiscal conservatives.
Although many challenges lie ahead, Democrats and the White House have not yet abandoned the pending Senate and House bills for any sort of scaled-back or bi-partisan approach.