Pelosi: No Health Care Bill, No Recess
On Monday John Amato asked the President a fairly self-evident question. Since there is a desire to pass health care reform this year, since Republicans want to use the August recess to distract and delay, shouldn't Congress forego that recess and continue work on the bill? The President dodged the question. But over the next 48 hours, the media got the message on this option, and started asking members of Congress about it. Yesterday Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) indicated he would be willing to stay in Washington in August to hammer out a deal. And today, the House Speaker agreed. And she actually has the ability to put that into place.
Asked at a press conference whether she'd support keeping the House of Representatives in session into the August recess to complete work on health care reform, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was fairly adamant.
"I think 70 percent of the American people would want that," she said. "I want a bill."
That could prove crucial if Blue Dogs hold up House Democrats' health care bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee much longer. The House is scheduled to adjourn on August 3rd. Whether or not she pushes that date back, though, it sounds like she's confident a bill will pass whenever it comes to the floor.
Blue Dogs in the House don't want to walk the plank until the Senate Finance Committee reveals its bill, and in particular how it deals with cost controls and paying for the expenditures. But Pelosi thinks she'll have the votes, though she may tweak the bill to move closer to what the Senate recommends. Foregoing the August recess makes it less possible for the Finance Committee to keep delaying and forces Congress to knuckle down on the bill.
You know what happens if they allow health care reform to be delayed until after the August recess? These Members go home, they get hit by hundreds of TV ads from the murder-by-spreadsheet industry, and they get phone calls from angry voters about "socialized health care." Then they come back, scared to pass real health care reform, so they end up passing health care reform that may not include a public option or a national insurance exchange. The stakes are very high this week.
We have to keep up the phone calls from yesterday. We've got to let Members of Congress, the Democratic leadership, and the White House know that we don't want them to go on vacation in August until they deal with health care reform FIRST. We can't have them be scared by the Blue Dog Democrats and the lying Republicans into cutting back subsidies for Americans, getting rid of the national insurance exchange, and putting in state-based co-ops into the health care reform package.
Please keep up with the phone calls to the Democratic leadership, the three chairmen of the House committees, the leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and the White House today!
The numbers are at the link.
I don't totally agree with the idea that members of Congress will get whacked if they go home in August - those who favor reform will show up at those meetings, too. But there are a lot of reasons to argue against delay, which simply slows momentum. It turns out that Republicans enacted a pro forma one-week delay on voting for Sonia Sotomayor in the Senate Judiciary Committee just so they could push out her confirmation vote on the floor an extra week, taking up time for the Senate and delaying the bill further. All of this could go away simply by eliminating the three-week August recess and forcing Congress to keep doing their job. It's smart politics in addition to smart policy.
No recess. Spread the word.
...Sen. Jay Rockefeller just said he'd stay in Washington to work on reform. Dick Durbin, by contrast, doesn't think the Senate will have a bill by the recess. There's an easy answer for that - don't have the recess.