Saturday, July 31, 2010

9/11 Health Care Failure

Lawrence O’Donnell was bemoaning on Countdown last night the failure of the House to pass a bill which would have provided health care funding for the rescue workers at Ground Zero on 9/11. The presentation was something of a comedy, which I will get to, but first the failure itself which O’Donnell blamed entirely on Republicans, since only ten of them voted in favor of the bill.

Normally, the Democratic majority in the House is enough to pass bills without any help from Republicans. However, the House is getting close to a recess and the Democratic leadership wanted to hurry things along.

Republicans were threatening to add an amendment to this bill regarding illegal immigration. Democrats could have voted that amendment down, of course, but they wanted to move this bill in a hurry and, more important, they didn’t want to have to vote on anything about illegal immigration before the election this fall, so to foil the Republican plans they used a plan of their own and brought this bill to the floor in a manner which prevented any amendments. It also required a two-thirds vote for passage.

They didn’t get it, which was entirely and completely predictable, and the bill failed. Lawrence O’Donnell is blaming Republicans alone for that, ignoring the fact that if the Democratic leadership had brought the bill to the floor in a normal manner which required a simple majority vote it would have passed. The only cost would have been that Democrats would have had to vote down a Republican amendment regarding illegal immigration, but the bill would have passed.

This failure is not on Republicans so much as it is on Nancy Pelosi.

Getting back to the Countdown presentation, O’Donnell first introduces a clip of Republican Peter King speaking and says that King makes it clear that, “his fellow Republicans would not be voting for the bill, ostensibly for procedural reasons.”

Watching the clip makes it clear that King is saying nothing of the sort. He says that he will be voting for the bill and that he is angry with his Republican colleagues for voting against it, and the gist of his tirade is that he is angry at the House leadership for bringing the measure to the floor in a manner that requires more votes than it will get. I see nothing there or anywhere else that suggests that any Republican was prepared to change his vote for this bill based on how it was brought to the floor.

O’Donnell than pontificates about “moments that try the patience of honorable members” and introduces a clip of Democratic Rep. Wiener.

The clip of Wiener pitching a hissy fit on the floor of the House is highly entertaining, but Wiener is loosing his cool over something that was not actually said. He is freaked out because the Republicans would presumably vote for this issue if it had been brought to the floor under a different procedure, but will vote against it due to the procedure that was used, but King did not say that and no other Republican has claimed that.

Republicans are voting against the measure because it raises taxes on corporations to pay for the benefits. That is pathetic, but there is a nasty little suspicion in the back of my mind that suggests to me that Democratic leadership was willing for the bill to fail for exactly that same reason.

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