Dems waste time in House as vote search goes on 

House Democrats say they will hold a vote on their national health care plan Sunday afternoon. But what are they actually doing between now and then? Behind the scenes, they're begging, offering bribes, threatening punishments, etc. But on the House floor, where lawmakers conduct their public business, the Democratic leadership is engaged in a days-long time-wasting effort to keep the House in session until the party can come up with enough votes to pass Obamacare.

For example, Friday afternoon -- a time when the House would normally have adjourned and lawmakers gone home -- the House considered H.Res. 1040, "Honoring the life and accomplishments of [novelist] Donald Harrington for his contributions to literature in the United States." The Democratic leadership allotted 40 minutes of debate to the subject, which is just a bit less than will be given to national health care. (For a summary of House proceedings, see here.)

Before the Harrington matter, the House considered H.Con.Res 244, "Expressing support for the designation of March 20 as a National Day of Recognition for Long-Term Care Physicians." Democrats gave that one 40 minutes, too. And before that weighty matter, the House dealt with H.Res. 1027, "Recognizing the 50th anniversary of the historic dive to the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, the deepest point in the world's oceans, on January 23, 1960."

Pressing matters all. But wait -- there's more. Before Harrington, long-term care doctors, and the Marianas Trench, the House dealt with H.Res. 1133, "Recognizing the extraordinary number of African-Americans who have overcome significant obstacles to enhance innovation and competitiveness in the field of science in the United States."

Throughout it all, Republicans have had the temerity to change the subject to health care, ignoring the time-fillers with which the Democratic leadership had filled the schedule. That left some Democrats very unhappy. Minnesota Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, for example, said during what was supposed to be the Donald Harrington time, "The fact is, we're honoring a great American novelist, but we have to divert that important conversation…the Republican caucus wants to go toe-to-toe on health care." California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier also chided her GOP colleagues, saying, "While we are trying to recognize the life and work of a great American novelist, we find ourselves drifting into a discussion of health care."

Imagine that! Not only do House Democrats not want to cast a vote explicitly for their national health care plan -- they don't want to talk about it, either.

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Michael Daboll

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