President Barack Obama’s push for a sweeping health care overhaul is inching toward a full consideration by the Senate and we have learned the left’s plan to add the public option to the Vapor Bill and avoid a filibuster. Congressional Quarterly reported in “Health Bill Nears Tricky End Game” that there is a way for Senate Leaders to start debate on the bill, then add the public option later with a mere simple majority.
Here is the scenario after the Senate Finance Committee finishes work on their part of the Vapor Bill (remember that that Senate Finance Committee has been debating and amending a description of legislation, not actual legislation) Senator Harry Reid will have the task of merging the Senate HELP Committee Bill and the Senate Finance Committee description of legislation being completed later this week. As the AP reported yesterday, this is no easy task.
Senator Reid will write the Vapor Bill with either no public option or one that goes into effect after the insurance industry does not meet certain benchmarks. This is called the public option “trigger.” Senator Reid will have to have a product that would keep together a 60 vote majority to prevent a filibuster of the bill and many health care vote counters don’t see 60 votes supporting proceeding to an Obamacare bill containing an expensive pubic option. Senator and the American public will finally get to see the Vapor Bill and the starting point for an Obamacare debate in the Senate when Senator Reid releases his draft Amendment, that he intends on adding to a House passed tax bill.
To get the measure on the floor, Senator Reid will have to use an unusual procedure. As The Foundry has reported last week, “Senator Reid will have to move to proceed to a House passed tax measure to avoid a “Blue Slip” problem. The term blue slip describes the procedure the House uses to stop the Senate from originating a tax bill. The Constitution states “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.” It is the most likely that the Reid will move to proceed to H.R. 1664 The AIG Bonus Bill.
A Senator who wants to add a public option to the bill will offer an amendment to the legislation and then it will be called up for consideration. Reid will then, purposely not take any action on that Amendment, and he will file cloture on the legislation. The cloture vote will be a 60 vote threshold to end debate on a bill that does not contain the public option. After cloture is invoked, the public option, and any other very controversial matters that are deemed “Germane to the bill,” can be added to the bill with a simple majority. Translated into English that means that many moderates in the Senate can vote for cloture on Obamacare without the public option and it can be added after a filibuster is ended.
It is possible to get a public option added to the Vapor Bill, a bill the American people and most Senators, have yet to see, with a simple majority.