Friday, May 22, 2009

Girding for the health care fight to come

In the House, Pelosi is setting up for the fight to pass health care. Where as recently as January the major health care supporters were not meeting with each other or with outsiders, this has changed. Now they are holding roundtables and hearings. Speaker Pelosi has gotten behind the effort to organize and pass health care this year, and it shows. According to Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic:
The three committees with jurisdiction--Energy and Commerce, Education and Labor, Ways and Means--are working together at both the staff and membership levels. They say they will work together on passing one, unified bill--and doing so by July 31, assuming the Senate can pass its bill by then as well. (If not, I'm told, the House will slow things down, figuring it makes no sense to create a target for critics before the Senate has passed its version.)
But it's not without opposition, even this early.
Last week, the Blue Dogs protested that they weren't having enough influence over the process. Bigger fights will erupt, perhaps in the very near future, particularly given the huge issues still to be decided--how to pay for reform, how to build a public plan, how to assist people struggling to afford coverage, and so on.

But the House has already taken this common effort farther than it did in 1994. Credit the favorable political environment and a more chastened Democratic caucus. Credit, too, the committee chairmen and their staffs, who are working overtime to produce legislation this summer. (That's particularly true in Henry Waxman's office, where they're also cranking out a climate change bill.) But don't forget to credit the leadership, starting with Pelosi.
Cohn's article may look like a Paean to Nancy Pelosi, but if health care gets passed this year then it is going to be as much the responsibility Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid as it is of Barack Obama. Obama is responsible for the public opinion; Reid and Pelosi are responsible for 99 and 434 members of their respective Houses. It's going to take all three.

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