Friday, December 18, 2009

Breaking News: "The Votes Are There!" Historic Healthcare Bill Now Certain To Pass


Key Concessions at Last Minute Get Senate Dems Over the 60-Vote Hump; Victory Assured

-by Gene Sculatti

After four decades, it now looks as if a sweeping healthcare reform bill will be upon the President’s desk before Christmas. Word came late Thursday that Senate Democrats have what an inside source called “an un-pickable lock” on passing the bill. Well more than the needed 60 votes have been secured for legislation that will include a vibrant public-option plan, severe cost rollbacks for insurers and pharmaceutical companies, and the elimination of exclusionary coverage policies-- the principal friction points that have hampered the bill’s progress since the House and Senate began fashioning their respective proposals months ago.

Sources close to the White House say President Obama has already approved an informal draft of what’s being called the “victory speech” he’ll deliver to the nation in mid-January. In it he’s expected to hail the bill, which he’s vowed to sign “immediately,” as a historic event-- and, not coincidentally, proof that he’s honored his promise to “achieve significant legislation that improves the lives of all Americans” by the end of his first term.

Senate approval of the bill did not come without concessions, most made throughout Wednesday and Thursday. As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer noted in announcing the Democrats’ vote-gathering success, party leaders “reached out pretty far” to collect votes from centrist Democrats as well as a surprising number of Republican lawmakers. Obama seconded their remarks, describing the concessions as “verifiable and conclusive evidence that we can work together with those we may not agree with in the interest of true collaborative achievement.”

Among the key concessions that enabled the Democrats to collect some 74 “guaranteed” votes for Senate passage of the bill:

* Provisions sought by Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson that remove any abortion funding from the bill. As now amended, the bill would provide up to $300 million over the next three years to close most of the nation’s 7,800 family-planning clinics and to severely restrict the sale in drug-- or discount chains of any contraceptive products.

* At the insistence of Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, a former staunch opponent of the public-option provision, the bill now earmarks $750 million in funds for the Army Corps of Engineers to help Israel construct a three-mile-deep wall fencing in the remaining ‘open’ portions of the Gaza Strip.

* In what Reid and Hoyer called “a sincere olive branch offered to our Republican brothers,” the healthcare bill now includes blanket legislation rescinding all firearms regulations in the continental U.S., as well as the suspension of habeas corpus rights and stipulation of the death penalty for anyone suspected of flag-burning on U.S. soil. In addition, the bill strips from any 2010 budget all funding for the EPA, NPR, Head Start and any government program advocated by Bono in his many opinion-page pieces in the New York Times.

* Finally, the White House indicated that, in order to enlist full bipartisan support, the bill now provides for unlimited offshore oil drilling, random and warrantless drug tests in schools and workplaces, and a prohibition against importing medical prescriptions from Canada; $3 billion in Homeland Security funds have been specified for the stationing of 30,000 Army and Marine troops along the Canadian border to enforce the provision.

Referring to the oil-drilling, EPA-dissolution and flag-burning concessions of the 2009 Healthcare Reform bill, Obama pointed out that, “This is what cooperation in politics is all about. Just because Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney may be in favor of some of these things doesn’t mean they’re things we can’t talk about. We’ve all been able to move from our original positions, to bend in the spirit of good faith, and that’s how we were able to get this historic legislation passed in time for my next State of the Union address. It’s something we can all be proud of.”

Labels: ,


At 4:42 PM, Anonymous Balakirev said...

You forgot Lieberman's amendment that all progressives have their heads removed and their tongues sewn into his vestments.

Otherwise, you got it dead on. Good job.

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Carmella Cardina said...

Where these stipulations in the original bill or manager amendments as I can't find them in the latest amendments?


Post a Comment

<< Home