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Monday, January 4, 2010

Smart Move Or Fueling The Fires Of Paranoia

According to two unnamed sources from both houses of Congress, Democrats are very likely to ignore a traditional "conference" when blending the House and Senate versions of healthcare legislation so that Republicans can't use parliamentary procedure to slow the process.

Johnathan Cohn of The New Republic writes on how this is possible without breaking Congressional rules:

“Ping pong” is a reference to one way the House and Senate could proceed. With ping-ponging, the chambers send legislation back and forth to one another until they finally have an agreed-upon version of the bill. But even ping-ponging can take different forms and some people use the term generically to refer to any informal negotiations.

Whatever form the final discussions take place, a decision to bypass conference would undoubtedly expedite the debate, clearing the way for final passage (if not signing) by the end of January. And, as long as both chambers still get their say, that's a good thing.

Yes, Republicans are sure to complain that they're being excluded from deliberations. But given their repeated efforts to block not just reform but even mere votes on reform, it's not clear why Democrats are obligated to include them in discussions anymore.

From my perspective, this is the best way to move forward. However, there won't just be simple complaints lodged by the Republicans, there will be a massive, conservative, push within Washington and the media that provide the supplication to claim that this is yet another step towards Fascist, Communist, Stalinist, Totalitarian, Marxist, rule the likes of which no one has ever seen. To put it more plainly, this will be like tossing jet-fuel onto the already raging fire within the conservative movement. The tea-baggers are likely to soil themselves with abject rage and make even bigger fools of themselves.

One has to ask thought - given all the chances that Republicans within the Senate and Congress have had to not only be part of the discussion but to actually contribute amendments, is this a shocking and illogical step for Democrats to make? Absolutely not.

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