The core problem is that the House Democrats no longer trust the Senate Democrats. And letâ€™s be honest: There is no reason in the world for House Democrats to trust the Senate Democrats at this point, or even to feel very kindly disposed toward them.
Thatâ€™s why there is resistance in the House to the most straightforward solution, which is for the House to pass the Senate health-care bill and send it to the president, and then to use the reconciliation process (which requires only 51 votes in the Senate) to pass the changes in the bill that House and Senate negotiators have agreed to — or, at least, as many of those changes as is procedurally possible. They canâ€™t get all the changes into law that way, but they could get a lot of them.
The catch is that the House Democrats donâ€™t believe the Senate Democrats will necessarily keep their word and pass the reconciliation bill containing the amendments. And itâ€™s not only the question of trust: anyone who has watched the Senate for the last year can be forgiven for wondering if it is even functional enough (given Republican obstruction and a lack of cohesion in the Democratic caucus) to keep a promise sincerely made.
I hadn’t thought of it that way, but Dionne probably is right. Dionne goes on to say that the leaders of both houses are trying to find a work-around that would allow the House to have the final vote on any final bill, but I’m not sure I understand exactly how that would work.
News of what’s going on now changes hourly. I hear there are talks; I hear there is no plan; I hear that the Obama Administration wants to both slow down and speed up the process. So, nobody really knows what’s going on.
The most significant development today may be that David Plouffe, President Obama’s campaign manager in 2008, is stepping into the role of White House adviser. Maybe he’ll get the Dems in Washington to re-think their priorities.