Byron York explains that getting the votes to bring ObamaCare to the floor for debate was, comparatively speaking, the easy part, and the democrat leadership barely succeeded.
(J)udging by the statements of four moderate Democrats — Lieberman, Lincoln, Landrieu, and Nelson — it will be far, far harder when the process comes to the really important vote, the one that would bring debate to a close and move on to an up-or-down vote on the Democrats’ health care plan. On Saturday, all four of those Democrats publicly threatened to side with Republicans and kill the bill before it can move to a final vote, unless their concerns are met.
“If the bill remains where it is now, I will not be able to support a cloture motion before final passage,” Sen. Joseph Lieberman said. “I’m prepared to vote against moving to the next stage of consideration as long as a government-run public option is included,” said Sen. Blanche Lincoln. “My vote to move forward on this important debate should in no way be construed by the supporters of this current framework as an indication of how I might vote as this debate comes to an end,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu. And Sen. Ben Nelson said he will “oppose the second cloture motion — needing 60 votes — to end debate, and oppose the final bill” if major changes are not made.
Some of that is the normal positioning and bargaining that takes place when big bills are considered. But the Democrats’ problems in keeping their side together, in the face of united Republican opposition, are an indicator of how public opinion is beginning to dominate the health care debate. Dozens of polls show that Americans are deeply divided over the issue, with a slight plurality opposing the Democratic health care plans currently under consideration in Congress. Clear majorities of Americans don’t believe their health care will improve under the plan, and do believe the plan will increase the deficit. Given that, Democrats are trying to pass the biggest piece of legislation in decades, one that will create an enormous and permanent new entitlement, with less than majority support among the public. And they’re racing to do it with less than a year to go before mid-term elections that most observers believe will result in fewer Democrats in Congress. No wonder it’s hard.
Shameless giveaways of tax dollars were needed to get this far. All of Washington is laughing about how much it cost to buy Senator Mary Landieu’s vote, Dana Milbank has details.
Staffers on Capitol Hill were calling it the Louisiana Purchase.
On the eve of Saturday’s showdown in the Senate over health-care reform, Democratic leaders still hadn’t secured the support of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), one of the 60 votes needed to keep the legislation alive. The wavering lawmaker was offered a sweetener: at least $100 million in extra federal money for her home state.
And so it came to pass that Landrieu walked onto the Senate floor midafternoon Saturday to announce her aye vote — and to trumpet the financial “fix” she had arranged for Louisiana. “I am not going to be defensive,” she declared. “And it’s not a $100 million fix. It’s a $300 million fix.”
It was an awkward moment (not least because her figure is 20 times the original Louisiana Purchase price).