Friday, January 15, 2010

Can the Democrats push through Obamacare before the Massachusetts election is certified?

Last weekend, the story emerged that the Democrats in Massachusetts were planning to slowwalk the certification of the election if Scott Brown wins the Senate election. We'd hear all about how they have to wait 10 days for absentee ballots and yadda, yadda. Meanwhile, they'd rush a vote on their final bill to try to get it done before Brown took his seat.

It might, however, not be so easy for them to stall long enough to get the bill through. Jonathan Karl at ABC explains the logistics and congressional procedure behind all of this.
f Democratic nominee Martha Coakley loses, Democrats in Washington want to be in a position to pass a bill through the Senate before Republican Scott Brown is sworn in and they lose their 60th Senate seat. Under Massachusetts law, the MA Secretary of State must wait “at least” ten days before certifying the results, to give time for absentee and military ballots to be received and counted. That means Brown could be sworn in as early as January 29, leaving Democrats very little time to maneuver … in fact, it may be impossible to get it done in time.

After a final health care deal is struck (and Democrats are hoping that will happen tonight), it goes to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for a cost estimate, a process expected to take 10 days. After that, it will take at least seven days to go through the procedural hurdles to pass the bill in the House and the Senate. That adds up to a vote on February 2 at the earliest.

Bottom line: Unless either 1) the certification in Massachusetts is delayed; or, 2) CBO works much faster than expected, Democrats would be unable to pass a health care bill before losing their 60th vote.
Karl compares the possibility of the Democrats losing this race to Bill Buckner letting the ball go through his legs in that World Series game. Heh.

These difficulties getting the bill passed have led some Democrats to revert back to their idea of pushing it through as part of reconciliation which would only need 51 votes. Allahpundit looks at the possibility of their deciding to push through this tremendously unpopular bill with a questionable parliamentary maneuver. Reconciliation is meant to be only for budget items and not any that contain policy issues. There is no way that anyone can honestly say that changing 1/6 the economy is not a policy matter and only a budgetary change.

Rich Lowry also is skeptical that they'd go the reconciliation route.
There's always reconciliation. If they go that route, they no longer need 60 votes in the Senate. But my understanding is that they would have to send the bill back through committee. It would be a time-consuming process, making it impossible for Obama to do his “pivot” to jobs anytime soon. And a lot of the most popular features of the bill couldn't be included, meaning Democrats would have to pass just the Medicare cuts and tax increases through the House and not lose any votes (again, in an environment where a Democrat lost in Massachusetts in an election defined by health care).
Are the Democrats that suicidally determined to pass this monstrosity of a bill?


dave in boca said...

If the Dems use chicanery to get something of this magnitude into law in the middle of the night, they will be slaughtered next November. The Gallup has only 37% support for ObamaCare.

And I'm hoping Obama gets booed when he visits Beantown on Sunday. Coakley makes Sarah Palin look like a polished PhD and her remark that Curt Schilling was a Yankee fan, and this after she chided Brown for standing to shake hands with voters outside Fenway at the Flyers/Bruins game---those two remarks alone might cost her several hundred thousand votes.

Coakley has the Buckner Curse written across her forehead! Chalk her up for just another Democrat entitlement elitist who won't condescend to shake hands with voters even in a photo-op in an old folk's home. And her record as AG has dozens of closets full of skeletons.

Even the MSM are beginning to sense a complete meltdown and the vultures are circling overhead [metaphor alert!]. Do we really need another Barbara Boxer in the Senate? She's rapidly setting new records for witless clueless stupidity with a dash of clumsy snootiness thrown in. BoBo still holds the all-time record, but Coakley is making up for lost time.

Finally, Health Care REFORM is one thing. The Democrats are trying to seize one-sixth of the economy behind closed doors and attach poison pills and supermajorities to overturn its malformed corrupt output.

The incredible monstrous Rube Goldberg coal tip of bribes, kickbacks, special pleadings and travesties like the Louisiana Purchase and the Cornhusker Kickback simply aren't just bad law. Combined with the special tax treatment the SEIU and UAW get on Cadillac health care plans, this whole exercise in political power grabbing is almost certainly UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

That's why a Supreme Court exists, among many reasons.

Old Rebel said...

Sure they can. A wise, compassionate government that can justify a disinformation campaign to discredit dissidents can enact legislation the ignorant serfs oppose.

tfhr said...

There's something to that Buckner curse but Mike Royko, the late, great Chicago columnist pinned it down as the Cubs Curse. His contention was that no team with big name ex-Cub players would be able to win a World Series. It was certainly held true with the Oakland - Cincinnati series that ended with a Reds sweep in 1990.

Go from the specific (Buckner) to an expanded curse with the Cubs and finish with the broader curse on humanity of the Chicago-style politics of Daly, Obama and Emmanuel and you have to wonder.

Cubs fans merely repeat the mantra, "Wait 'til next year". It's quaint and now that the Tribune doesn't own the club, there's a chance that they may improve through better ownership and management.

As for the rest of us, the current management in Washington seems to think we're all willing to assume and maintain Buckner's bent-at-the-waist pose as he watched Boston's hopes disappear. It won't be a good idea to "wait 'til next year". I hope Brown pulls this thing off.

Bachbone said...

Dave, given some SCOTUS decisions and opinions of late (campaign finance "reform" and referrng to international law, for exmple), I wouldn't be extremely optimistic about it basing decisions solely on our Constitution.

LarryD said...

H/T Instapundit Kirk Can't Vote After Tuesday
"But in the days after the election, it is Kirk’s status that matters, not Brown’s. Massachusetts law says that an appointed senator remains in office “until election and qualification of the person duly elected to fill the vacancy.” The vacancy occurred when Senator Edward Kennedy died in August. Kirk was picked as interim senator by Governor Deval Patrick.

"Democrats in Massachusetts have talked about delaying Brown’s “certification,” should he defeat Democrat Martha Coakley on Tuesday. Their aim would be to allow Kirk to remain in the Senate and vote the health care bill.

"But based on Massachusetts law, Senate precedent, and the U.S. Constitution, Republican attorneys said Kirk will no longer be a senator after election day, period. Brown meets the age, citizenship, and residency requirements in the Constitution to qualify for the Senate. “Qualification” does not require state “certification,” the lawyers said.

"An appointed senator’s right to vote is not dependent on whether his successor has been certified, the lawyers said. In Massachusetts, the election of a senator must be certified by the governor, the governor’s council, and the secretary of state – all of them Democrats."

Bottom line, one the election occurs, Kirk ceases to be Senator, even if it's unclear who his successor is. The Democrats lose their 60th vote Tuesday, and only get it back if Coakley is elected and when she is certified. If Brown is elected, they can delay Brown's cerification as long as they dare, but that only gets them 59-40, rather than 59-41.

And if they're too blatent in their shenanigans, the Democrats could damage themselves further even with registered Democrats, not just independants.