Home > News > Health Care
139 views 2 min 0 Comment

Health Care

- March 22, 2010

Was I dreaming? I sat down on the couch next to Moxie tonight and turned on CNN. And there was a panel of pundits pondering the motion to recommit. After weeks of discussion about reconciliation, the Byrd Rule, self-executing rules, and the Senate parliamentarian, it was not a dream.

There will be much more to say about tonight’s historic votes on health care reform once the dust is settled from this evening’s votes. In the meantime, I thought I’d raise some questions for Monkey Cage readers about parties and health care, and the limits of leaders’ powers:

1. I was struck by Obama’s reference this weekend to the ideological nature of the health care bill. “This is a middle of the road bill to help the American people…” And later, “It’ll turn out that this piece of historic legislation is built on the private insurance system we have now and runs straight down the center of American political thought.”

Assuming this was more than rhetorical flourish, why in an era of oversized majorities were Democratic leaders constrained to pass a bill that hewed so closely to the center? Is this solely the effect of the Senate’s Rule 22 that requires the consent of a supermajority to end debate and thus to pass a bill? What does the centrist nature of the bill imply about party-oriented theories of legislative organization?

2. There will be a spate of articles in the coming days ranking Speaker Pelosi as one of the strongest speakers of all time. How much should we attribute the success of health care reform to the Speaker? If so, on what basis?

3. Does it matter that health care reform was enacted solely with Democratic votes? Can we say something about the durability of major reforms based on the partisanship of the enacting coalition?

4. Will the member of the House Rules Committee who voted with Republicans against the rule in committee be stripped of his membership on the Rules Committee? (I doubt it!)

But enough with the House (for now). Onward to Senate vote-a-ramas!