Health bill sinking after Senate shocker 

The Democratic strategy to pass President Obama's health-care bill has gone into a tailspin thanks to Republican Scott Brown's upset victory in the Massachusetts Senate race.

The $1 trillion health-care package, which was on the verge of passage just days ago, could be put on hold indefinitely after voter opposition to the plan cost Democrats a Senate seat held by their party since John F. Kennedy won it in 1952.

Senate Democratic leaders are tuning into the voter angst felt in Massachusetts, announcing on Wednesday that there would not be a vote on health care until after Brown is seated.

Democrats have suffered considerable public backlash after suggesting they would pass a health-care reform bill before Brown's arrival and perhaps even delay the new senator's swearing-in.

President Obama told ABC News on Wednesday he does not want Congress to act until Brown is seated, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., echoed that sentiment.

But Democratic leaders say they are still determined to pass a bill. They just don't know how.

In the Senate, lawmakers have resuscitated the idea of passing parts of the health-care bill through a process known as reconciliation, which would require just 51 votes for passage but is generally considered to be a politically toxic move.

Pelosi on Wednesday acknowledged Brown's historic election but said it would not stop health care reform

"We will move forward with their consideration in mind," she said of the Bay State voters. "But we will move forward."

Pelosi's rank and file feels differently, however.

"Right now we have to take a big step back," Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., told reporters. "When you have a large number of citizens who say we are going in the wrong direction ... I think we should maybe internalize that maybe we are not doing things entirely correctly."

An exit poll conducted by a Republican firm confirmed what many already suspected: Scott Brown's 52-47 victory over Democrat Martha Coakley was fueled by voter opposition to the health-care bill, which Brown opposes and she supports. The survey of 800 Massachusetts voters, conducted by Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates found that 52 percent opposed the health-care plan and 42 percent said they voted for Brown so he would put a stop to it.

Democrats could send the current Senate-passed bill to the House unchanged, but many House Democrats were already opposed to that idea because of differences on taxpayer funding of abortion and other issues.

And no one seems willing to vote for a bill that includes the deal cut by Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., guaranteeing permanent federal funding of the bill's proposed Medicaid expansion in his state. Support for passing the Senate bill in the House has shrunk even further in the wake of Brown's decisive victory.

"I bet that won't even get 100 votes," Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., told Fox News on Wednesday.

About The Author

Susan Ferrechio

Pin It

Speaking of Politics, washington Examiner

More by Susan Ferrechio

Latest in Nation

© 2018 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation