With Scott Brown giving Republicans their 41st member, the health care reform that was close to passing Congress has hit a major roadblock. Now, anything that comes out of the conference committee between the House and Senate would hit a GOP filibuster in the upper chamber. Meanwhile, Congress and the White House have been silent on what their next course of action will be. They are debating a few options.
First, the House could pass the Senate version of the bill. Since both chambers would have passed the same bill, it would go right to President Obama’s desk to sign. However, Speaker Pelosi says she doesn’t have the votes to pass that through the Senate. It would also be political suicide, as seen in polls and the Massachusetts election.
Or, Congress could break up the large health care bill and pass small initiatives that most people agree with. For instance, increasing portability by allowing customers to buy insurance across state lines would almost certainly pass. Outlawing caps on benefits, reforming the high-risk pools, enacting tort reform, preventing insurers from canceling policies, and pooling small businesses together would go a long way in lowering costs for all Americans, thus helping the uninsured obtain health care.
Either way, without a super majority in the Senate, Democrats will be forced to negotiate with Republicans. Whether or not they will do that is another story. Democrats have a diverse caucus, from socialists to liberals to more moderates. As we’ve seen, it is hard to compromise with all these factions. However, with 59 votes Democrats need only find one of the Maine Senators to vote with them to pass their legislation.