Off to the Senate

As soon as the votes were over in the House, I started to get a blizzard of messages on Twitter, Facebook and via email, asking one simple question - what's next on health care reform?  The answer: A lot of parliamentary battles in the Senate.

The House dealt with two bills on Sunday night, sending the Senate's health care bill to President Obama for his signature, and sending to the Senate the fix-it-reconciliation bill.

Republican Senators have talked about Parliamentary Armageddon on that bill this week, but Democrats will try to jam the GOP by running the Senate up against a scheduled Easter Break that is supposed to start this Friday.

My bet would be another working weekend for us Congressional scribes, as GOP Senators will see if they can poke any holes in the reconciliation bill, which re-jiggers the way that Democrats would pay for health care reform, in terms of new taxes and fees.

One interesting item that was added late on Saturday night to the reconciliation bill was a change in wording of one particular section, which I found sort of intriguing in terms of semantics.

"Page 88, line 1, strike "MEDICARE TAX" and insert "UNEARNED INCOME MEDICARE CONTRIBUTION" the line read in the manager's amendment to the reconciliation bill.

"Is it voluntary?" asked Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) with a knowing smile.

For most of us, a contribution is a voluntary kind of thing.  But if you go into the dictionary, you can find that contribution can be defined as "an impost or levy" which does not sound as voluntary.

Most of the changes in the manager's amendment were in legislative hieroglyphics unfortunately, but maybe the staff of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) will come up with some interesting items from it to keep this week's debate fresh.

I just wonder if the House victory for Democrats takes some of the wind out of the sails of Senate opponents on health reform.

Stay tuned.

As soon as the votes were over in the House, I started to get a blizzard of messages on Twitter, Facebook and via email, asking one simple question - what's next on health care reform?  The answer: A lot of parliamentary battles in the Senate. The House dealt with two ...

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