March 2, 2010 — President Obama on Wednesday is expected to present a revised version of his health reform proposal and lay out a strategy for Democrats to move forward on the initiative, CQ Today reports (Wayne, CQ Today, 3/1). White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said the president will discuss "the merits of the legislation, mainly about the costs of doing nothing versus the cost of doing something and what this will accomplish" (Calmes/Herszenhorn, New York Times, 3/2). The proposal likely will be updated with certain measures endorsed by Republicans at the health reform summit last week, such as those focusing on medical malpractice reform (Werner, AP/Chicago Tribune, 3/2). According to White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs, Obama wants an "up-or-down vote" on a reform bill by the end of the month, when Congress is scheduled to break for its spring recess (Wayne, CQ Today, 3/1).
Although Obama's revised proposal will accommodate certain proposals favored by Republicans, it likely will not be enough to garner their support for reform. Barring an agreement with Republicans, Democrats likely will use the budget reconciliation process to pass an overhaul package (CQ Today, 3/1). However, both chambers disagree on the order in which the bills should pass because House members are concerned whether the Senate can secure 51 votes for the reconciliation proposal (Condon/Edney, CongressDaily, 3/2).
Inside Health Policy reports that a Democratic memo suggests a possible strategy for passing reform by the end of the month, according to Politico's "Live Pulse." Under the potential strategy, the House would pass the Senate reform bill by March 19 with assurance from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that his chamber can pass the reconciliation package. Obama would immediately sign the Senate bill, and then the House would pass the reconciliation changes by March 21. The Senate would have a maximum of 30 hours to debate the reconciliation bill, and voting on the measure would begin by March 26, the first day of spring recess. Reid would announce that the Senate will stay in session until it considers all amendments on the reconciliation package, and a final vote would come after consideration of the last amendment (Frates, "Live Pulse," Politico, 3/2).
Meanwhile, Republicans are planning a floor strategy that involves proposing numerous amendments and raising as many budget points of order as possible, Roll Call reports. The GOP believes the strategy could hold off a final vote for several weeks and force Democrats to grapple with health reform issues while running for mid-terms elections (Drucker, Roll Call, 3/2).
Nine House Dems Could Switch Votes
According to an AP survey, at least nine of the 39 Democrats who voted against the House reform bill (HR 3962) passed in November 2009 are now undecided or withholding judgment until they see Obama's revised proposal. All of the lawmakers are either freshman Democrats or on the verge of retiring (Babington, AP/Google News, 3/2). The lawmakers include Reps. Brian Baird (Wash.), Rick Boucher (Va.), Bart Gordon (Tenn.), Suzanne Kosmas (Fla.), Frank Kratovil (Md.), Michael McMahon (N.Y.), Scott Murphy (N.Y.), Glenn Nye (Va.) and John Tanner (Tenn.) (CQ Today, 3/1).