Back To The House Again, For Another Painful Vote

Posted: Mar 25, 2010 10:33 AM
A glitch in Senate rules will send revisions in the health care bill back to the House for yet another painful vote on the controversial legislation. The glitch will have virtually no impact on the bill itself, but it did represent a small victory for the GOP.

At around 2:45am last night, the Senate Parliamentarian, Alan Frumin, ruled that two minor provisions the health care bill did not meet reconciliation rules. Those provisions were unrelated to health care — they were part of an attachment to the health care bill that will nationalize the entire student loan industry.

The provisions in the attachment held that that students' Pell Grant loan payments could not decrease even if Congress didn't vote to appropriate more funds for them. Essentially, it mandated an increase in the national debt, requiring entitlements to be paid out without forcing Members of Congress to make tough choices about funding them.

Frumin held that this provision was not in compliance with reconciliation rules. Apparently, the provisions breached the requirement that items considered under reconciliation only relate to the national debt.

After that ruling, revisions to the health care bill could no longer be voted on using reconciliation, which only require 50 votes. Since Reid could not obtain the 60 votes needed to consider the provisions under traditional voting guidelines — thanks again, Scott Brown — the entire revision bill was blocked by those provisions.

That means the bill must go back to the House, where staffers will excise the offending provisions, and then put the whole revision package up for a vote once again by the full House. Then, Democratic House members will once again have to affirm their support for Obamacare. Those Democrats won't be voting on the full health care bill, of course — only the revised portion that the Senate was trying to pass. But that revised portion still includes things like Medicare reductions, tax increases, and special deals.