Health insurance bill just passed in the Senate

With Vice President Biden presiding, the Senate has passed its version of the health insurance bill by a vote of 60 – 39. A simple majority was need for final passage. Every single member of the Democratic caucus voted yes. The no votes were, of course, all Republicans. Senator Bunning (R-KY) didn’t vote.

Now, it’s on to the House/Senate conference. It won’t be a real conference with each body officially appointing members (GOPers would filibuster that in the Senate.) It will be more of a mini-conference. Leaders from the House and Senate will hammer out a bill, in conjunction with the White House brain trust. As Brian Beutler reported, timing is still unclear. Negotiations will begin soon, but there’s talk that it could roll into February. You can see where this is leading, right? The final package will be much closer to the Senate version than the much more progressive House bill, which passed in November.

Advocates for real reform support the House bill. Insurance companies like the Senate bill. Drug makers are pretty happy with the Senate bill, too. I have to say, I never expected insurers and Pharma to be the beneficiaries of Obama’s agenda.

Yesterday, Rep. Louise Slaughter, who chairs the powerful House Rules Committee, wrote an op-ed laying her opposition to the Senate bill. Although, Greg Sargent talked to Slaughter’s press secretary who “confirms [Slaughter’s] not ruling out a vote for the final bill, even if it lacks a public option or other concessions sought by progressives.” We’ll hear a lot of this over the next few weeks. I’m sure a lot of House progressives are very angry with the Senate bill — and the fact that Senators Nelson and Conrad have basically told the House to shut up and do what the Senate says. There are a lot of things that could and should be fixed in conference. As to whether we get a better bill from conference, count me in the skeptical camp.

So, the legislative session for 2009 is over. Health insurance reform dominated the disscussion, sweeping many other issues off the table. And, that will be the case for the start of 2010, too.

On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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