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Strategizing a health reform vote

Thursday, January 21st, 2010



The Massachusetts vote Tuesday to replace the late Senator Ted Kennedy concluded with an ironic twist. Senator-elect Scott Brown is a Republican opposed to one of Kennedy’s life-long projects: health care reform. Democrats are now split on the best strategy for passing their newly imperiled legislation.

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When Senator-elect Brown takes office, Democrats will lose their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. House Democrats are brainstorming ways to save the health care overhaul they’ve been working on for months.

Congressman Chaka Fattah says the first step should be to convince a Republican senator to support health-care reform. That would re-establish a filibuster-proof majority vote. Fattah says the other option is to rush a vote, before Brown takes office.

Fattah: If we can’t find a Republican vote, we do have the Senate bill that they passed, it’s in the House now. and the House could consider it. And then we could try to fix whatever shortcomings there are in additional legislation at some later date.

New Jersey Congressman Robert Andrews says he’d rather work to improve legislation that appeals more people.

Andrews: I don’t think we should rush a vote to get something done before this gentleman gets here. I don’t think that’s right or fair.

Another option is to do some procedural finagling to prevent a filibuster.

Congressman Joe Sestak from Pennsylvania says, whatever the strategy, it has to be transparent.

Sestak: How we proceed now cannot smack at all about a deal being done.

The strategy may be unclear, but one thing is certain. House Democrats’ ambitions have been challenged by this latest election.


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