We’ve delayed publishing analysis of the Senate’s health care bill until a version could garner 60 votes, and thus survive a cloture vote to cut off debate. That bill is Majority Leader Reid’s manager’s amendment to HR 3590.
A copy of the bill is here in PDF format.
The bill is styled as a manager’s amendment to a tax bill, HR 3590, that already passed the House of Representatives. The Constitution requires tax bills to originate in the House. Thus, this is the only way for the Senate to produce a health care bill that does not have to go to a conference committee for reconciliation.
House Speaker Pelosi can can bring the bill to the floor of the House for a vote exactly as it passes the Senate, which is expected to occur on Christmas Eve. This strategy has benefits and costs. Among the benefits is a much easier path to enactment. Debate on the House floor can be limited, and by rule the House leadership can limit or even prevent amendments. Any amendment that passes prior to a floor vote would make a conference committee mandatory, and any changes made in conference would require the bill to back to the Senate for another vote.
Among the costs to the House is that simply passing the Senate bill as is would render the House legislatively superfluous. For this reason, all attention now is directed to the House, where it is possible that a coalition of liberals and Republicans might be large enough to prevent passage of the Senate bill. If this scenario were to arise, then the bill almost certainly would change before a vote on the House floor, thereby making a conference committee with the Senate required and put ultimate enactment in doubt.