Early in the day, it appeared that opponents of ObamaCare could win the day. Enough Democrats had defected, primarily due to concerns over federal funding for abortion, to defeat the bill.
There was talk of a deal between Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) and the White House. President Obama would sign an executive order barring federal funding of abortion to get Stupak and other members concerned about the issue on board. Stupak’s sudden change of heart guaranteed passage of the bill.
During debate on the floor, Republicans argued that such an executive order could not overrule law passed by Congress. That argument has some substance. Unfortunately, vulnerable Democrats weren’t looking for something meaningful, they were looking for political cover back home.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called for bipartisanship in passing the bill. The only bipartisanship we saw last night was in the opposition, as 34 Democrats joined Republicans in voting against the bill. He also talked up the numbers from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that show deficit reduction. Those numbers, however, are suspect at best. The CBO’s numbers excluded the Medicare doc fix, which erases any deficit reduction and results in budget deficits. It’s apparent that the numbers were cooked to bring the desired outcome. Of course, none of this the CBO’s numbers take into consideration the toll ObamaCare will have on private business, such as Caterpillar, which says the mandates will cost the company $100 million, or the unfunded Medicaid mandates on states.
The reconciliation package now heads to the Senate. As mentioned last night and previously, this procedure bypasses any filbuster attempt by the minority. It does not guarantee that everything will go as planned if the Senate Parliamentarian rules against Senate Democrats on certain parts of the package.
Senate Republicans will also raise countless points of order to slow down the process, but this is a stall at best.
Democrats now head into November with ObamaCare as their legislative accomplishment. Many analysts believe, including many Democrats, that this bill is going to be a electoral liability. Pat Caddell said, “Look, the people who are opposing this are holding tea parties. The Democrats are holding a Kool-Aid party. This is political Jonestown.”
The backlash against passing an unpopular bill will be enormous. It’s unclear if it will be enough to swing control of Congress, but the next eight months will be fun for us to watch.