Health Reform by Any Means Necessary

Desperate to pass health care reform, Dems consider an unusual move.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Congressional Democrats are considering splitting health care reform into two bills, making it easier to pass, reports the Wall Street Journal. The move may be what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's spokesman meant when he said reform would be passed "by any legislative means necessary." Experts are debating, is exploiting procedural rules exactly what's needed to get the bill through, or is it not worth the risk?

  • Dangerous Game  The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder warned, "Rules and precedents here are very complex." Outlining the complexities required to split the bill and ways it could backfire, he said, "this uncertainty makes Democrats a bit wary of using the process." Conservative blogger Rick Moran warned this would be "the 'Armageddon Option' because the aftermath will blow up Washington like no other event in recent memory." Moran called the strategy "unprecedented," a "clear abuse," and "dangerous territory for the tradition-bound senate."
  • Just Might Work  The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn praised the strategy as "giving Democrats a way to enact legislation in case the GOP remains as obstructionist as it is now." He wrote, "Maybe the Democrats are ready to get tough after all." Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly expressed optimism about diving the bill into two parts. "The popular part would come to the floor, and probably overcome a filibuster," he wrote. "The second part would be done through reconciliation, and could pass with 51 votes."
  • Probably a Bluff  Joan Walsh of Salon was skeptical, writing, "I'll believe in Harry Reid's courage when I see it." Ambinder called "the threat of reconciliation," which is a complex procedural move that would be used to pass both bills, "very likely just that -- a threat." Ambinder suggested the White House may be hesitant to run two bills. "Keeping the good stuff in the bill makes it harder to vote against the tougher-to-swallow stuff," he wrote.
  • Freak Genius of the Blogosphere  As if we needed it, the move is further validation of Matthew Yglesias's disturbingly preternatural ability to read Congress: He predicted this strategy two days ago.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.