Health care reform before the end of the year?

Rick Moran
Byron York of the Examiner doesn't think so:

Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin recently was asked if a national health care bill would pass the Senate by the end of the year. "It must," Durbin responded. "We have to finish it."Many other top Democrats share Durbin's determination to meet this deadline. But it's almost certainly not going to happen, for three reasons: the calendar, the Senate's other business, and, most importantly, growing public opposition to the health bill itself.

Start with the calendar. No matter what Durbin says, there's not enough time to get a bill of the scope and complexity of the 2,074-page Senate proposal -- which was only unveiled 10 days ago -- done by New Year's.

The Senate's first full day of business after the Thanksgiving break is Tuesday, Dec. 1. After that shortened week, there are two more workweeks, beginning Dec. 7 and 14, before the beginning of the traditional Christmas-New Year's break. That's a total of 14 working days (assuming the lawmakers work through the weekends) to debate, amend, and vote on the bill.

But even if the Senate were to work through part of the holidays and add a few days to the legislative calendar, there won't be enough time to deal with the amendments senators will propose.

The senate is not called "The World's oldest deliberative body" for nothing. It's whole purpose was to restrain the passions that bubble up in "the people's house" and bring weighty deliberation to such measures.

Not that it would matter. If Harry Reid could pass health care reform tomorrow, he would. But it's not only the calendar working against him, it is the amendment process as well. Then there are several other issues - debt ceiling, extension of the Patriot Act and highway bills - that must be done before the end of the year recess. It's not doable unless Reid plays "kamikaze" and closes off debate early, forcing a vote. At that point, he may not have 60 votes which would mean a huge blow to final passage.

No doubt both senators and congressmen are going to hear an earful from the home folks when they recess before Christmas. And a lot of it is not going to be printable.


Byron York of the Examiner doesn't think so:

Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin recently was asked if a national health care bill would pass the Senate by the end of the year. "It must," Durbin responded. "We have to finish it."

Many other top Democrats share Durbin's determination to meet this deadline. But it's almost certainly not going to happen, for three reasons: the calendar, the Senate's other business, and, most importantly, growing public opposition to the health bill itself.

Start with the calendar. No matter what Durbin says, there's not enough time to get a bill of the scope and complexity of the 2,074-page Senate proposal -- which was only unveiled 10 days ago -- done by New Year's.

The Senate's first full day of business after the Thanksgiving break is Tuesday, Dec. 1. After that shortened week, there are two more workweeks, beginning Dec. 7 and 14, before the beginning of the traditional Christmas-New Year's break. That's a total of 14 working days (assuming the lawmakers work through the weekends) to debate, amend, and vote on the bill.

But even if the Senate were to work through part of the holidays and add a few days to the legislative calendar, there won't be enough time to deal with the amendments senators will propose.

The senate is not called "The World's oldest deliberative body" for nothing. It's whole purpose was to restrain the passions that bubble up in "the people's house" and bring weighty deliberation to such measures.

Not that it would matter. If Harry Reid could pass health care reform tomorrow, he would. But it's not only the calendar working against him, it is the amendment process as well. Then there are several other issues - debt ceiling, extension of the Patriot Act and highway bills - that must be done before the end of the year recess. It's not doable unless Reid plays "kamikaze" and closes off debate early, forcing a vote. At that point, he may not have 60 votes which would mean a huge blow to final passage.

No doubt both senators and congressmen are going to hear an earful from the home folks when they recess before Christmas. And a lot of it is not going to be printable.