Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
In front of a standing-room-only spectator gallery, the Senate voted 60-39 Saturday night to invoke cloture and limit floor debate on the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009,” the Senate’s companion measure to similar healthcare reform legislation passed earlier in the month by the House of Representatives. Invoking cloture requires a three-fifths majority (60 votes) of the full Senate. Though not a vote on the legislation itself, the procedural vote is significant since it prevents opponents from trying to filibuster the bill to death.
It seems Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is really getting into the spirit of the holiday season. Not only has he promised President Obama that he would deliver a shiny new healthcare package to the President’s desk by Christmas, but since revealing the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” the Senate’s version of healthcare reform, it is apparent that he likes playing Santa Claus so much he has stuffed Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) stocking with $100 million.
With a special delivery due at the White House by Christmas, Senators have a lot more on their plates than just turkey and cranberry sauce. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) committed Monday to opening debate this week on a healthcare bill, notwithstanding the seemingly insuperable procedural obstacles some members of his own party have promised to place along the path.
Nobody wants to disappoint President Obama on the eve of the holiday season, so all the stops are going to be removed in order to deliver a comprehensive healthcare bill to his desk by Christmas. White House Budget Director Peter Orszag reckons that procedural and political obstacles notwithstanding, a bill creating a new system of national healthcare will be ready for President Obama’s signature before the end of the year.
Anxious to find a revenue source rich enough to fund the proposed government-supported healthcare behemoth, Senate Democrats are considering dipping their buckets into a familiar well — the pockets of the “wealthy.” According to aides familiar with Senate deliberations, Senator Harry Reid and others are prepared to raise Medicare payroll taxes from 1.45 percent to 1.5 percent in order to meet the substantial fiscal demands of the overhaul. Presently, the Medicare tax amounts to 2.9 percent of wages, with half contributed by the employer and the other half paid by the employee.
With a new bag of political capital burning a hole in his pocket, President Obama pressed his nose against the window and wondered if that most wondrous of all gifts, Senate passage of healthcare legislation, could really be his by Christmas.
Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia squeezes past a pillar at the back of the House Chamber and sits in an empty seat, his right hand on the left elbow of fellow Republican, Anh “Joseph” Cao, freshman from Louisiana. In a voice soft enough to be described as hushed, but with a tone and a pace that is noticeably anxious to the point of being pleading, he encourages Cao to demonstrate party loyalty and vote no on the “Affordable Health Care for America” (H.R. 3962), which as we now know was later passed by the House.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is prepared to jail any American who does not buy a qualifying health insurance plan if the healthcare bill she sponsored (H.R. 3962, as amended) is passed into law.
By the time of the founding, the definition of federalism was already so firmly settled and so deeply imbedded in the American understanding of good government that James Madison, in his defense of the proposed constitution, felt it necessary to assuage worries of some Americans that the state would surrender sovereignty under the new federal system. “Each State, in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act,” he wrote in The Federalist, No. 39.
About 3 a.m. local time, two Hellfire missiles were fired by a U.S. Predator Drone at a house in Pakistan on Friday morning, killing four people suspected of being members of al-Qaeda or the Taliban.