How Health Care Passed the House (And Now What?)

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Well, health care reform passed! The House approved the reform last night with a vote of 219-212. If you’re not a C-SPAN or procedure fan like me you might be rather confused by the entire process. So lets go through it step by step.

Every bill, as we all learned in grade school, has to be passed by both houses. On Christmas eve, the Senate passed a bill that was sent back to the House. At this point, two things could have happened.

In the first case, the House and Senate could have met in something called conference, and then agreed to a new bill which would then be sent back to each house of Congress for a vote. However, since Brown won in MA, it was expected that the Senate would not be able to muster the 60 votes to get around a fillibuster and pass any bill that came back from conference.

So instead, the House last night passed the Senate bill in its entirety. In the coming days, the President will sign that bill into law. However, to get all the votes on the Senate version of the bill in the House, everyone had to agree that the Senate bill would be amended by another, and entirely new bill. So last night, after voting on the Senate bill, the House voted on a budget bill that would amend the soon-to-be law. The reason it was a particular type of budget bill is so that the senate could pass it using a process known as reconciliation. For all intents and purposes the process of reconciliation means that a simple majority in the Senate can pass the bill.

There are obviously a lot of stories on the bills and process out there, some of the ones I found particularly interesting were:

  • A good dissection from the Times of what’s in the bill;
  • An analysis from the Times on the bill’s political benefits and costs to Democrats and Obama;
  • Lastly from the Times, an outline of the legal fights expected to shape up over the bill;
  • Dana Milbank on some of the the ugliness seen from demonstrators and even Republicans: “Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) likened the Democrats to Soviets. “Say no to totalitarianism!,” he said.
  • WAPO on the PR blitz that Obama is planning, and
  • The Politico does an anaylsis of lawmakers whose reelection prospects have been significantly imperiled by their announced support of—or opposition to—health care reform.