GOP Forces New House Vote on Health Care Bill, March 25, 2010
From Fox News, March 25, 2010.
“GOP Forces New House Vote on Health Care Bill”
“The follow-up health care bill being considered by the Senate will have to return to the House for final congressional approval, after the Senate parliamentarian determined that two Republican challenges will succeed in stripping out language in the package.
Altering the bill in any way means it has to return to the House side, which first approved the package of changes Sunday, since both chambers must pass identical versions.
Democrats don’t appear worried. Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said the House could easily approve the expected changes. The Senate is expected to complete work on the bill Thursday afternoon, and the House could take it up again the same day — or push it off until Friday.
The package of changes, which is being considered under “reconciliation” rules allowing the Senate to approve it with just 51 votes, is the final piece of the legislative puzzle to the health care reform package signed into law Tuesday. Health care reform is officially enacted, but House Democrats wanted the package of fixes to change the way it’s financed and address other concerns.
The glitches have to do with Pell grants for low-income students.
A senior Senate Republican leadership aide told Fox News that Democrats had tried to improve the cost of the bill while simultaneously piling on Pell grants “without mandating the spending.” The aide said Democrats claimed the grants would increase, but were relying on a “future Congress” to find the funding.
“They can’t do that,” the aide said. “This was one of 100 gimmicks used to keep the score down.”
Republicans have been hunting for such violations in hopes of bringing down the legislation. Democrats had also been consulting with the parliamentarian, Alan Frumin, and hoped they had written a measure that would not be vulnerable to such problems.
The two provisions are expected to be formally removed from the bill on Thursday. Both chambers are hoping to begin a spring recess by this weekend.
The president, who signed the landmark legislation into law on Tuesday, was flying to Iowa later in the day for the first of many appearances he will make around the country before the fall congressional elections to sell his health care revamp.
Obama was appearing in Iowa City, where as a presidential candidate in 2007 he touted his ideas for health coverage for all. His trip comes with polls showing people are divided over the new health law, and Democratic lawmakers from competitive districts hoping he can convince more voters by November that it was the right move.
Besides reshaping parts of the landmark health overhaul, the legislation transforms the federal student loan program — in which private banks distribute the money — into one in which the government issues the loans directly. That produces some federal savings, which the bill uses in part to increase Pell grants to needy students.
The latest development came as the Senate completed nine hours of uninterrupted voting on 29 GOP amendments to the legislation. Majority Democrats defeated every amendment.”