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FROM BILL TO LAW

October 1, 2009

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I’m starting to understand the frustration that our President must feel when he hears some of the uneducated, and even stupid comments coming from congressional members on healthcare. And if you believe some of the punditry, you would think the healthcare bill will be law next week. It’s understandable how lay-persons can be swayed to believe some of this gibberish.

As I watch all of the back and forth, it occurs to me that very few understand how a bill becomes law. Before anyone can discuss the very complicated issue of healthcare and the needed changes, one must first know the process. It’s exhaustive, especially when there is so much political opposition to changing the way we currently distribute healthcare in this country.

As of today, October 1st, we are far away from a healthcare bill. When you hear people say the bill includes this and doesn’t include that, they’re wrong. There is no single bill – only drafts of committee bills.

Here’s how a final healthcare bill (or any bill) moves through congress, step by step. First: all the steps.

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There are five committees looking at healthcare reform. Three in the House and two in the Senate. This is where we are right now. (Please note: I found these charts early in September. The deadline set by Sen. Baucus came and went, and the current draft did not include the co-ops seen on the chart.)

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The 23-member Baucus Committee ran a couple of what I’ll call “trial” votes earlier this week to “take a pulse” on the public option within his committee. The first vote resulted in an 8-15 vote against the draft. Five Democrats voted against it. An amendment was added, “softening” the public option, and another vote was taken. This time, it was 10-13 against. The draft gained two more Democrats. No Republicans voted for either draft.

None of these preliminary votes mean anything. We are still four big steps away from a bill reaching the President’s desk.

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So take a deep breath, fans of the public option. As I said in Strategy Over Blather, we will prevail.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

One comment

  1. […] I believe the reason Sen. Snowe voted for the Baucus Bill was to get it out of committee and move the process forward. She knows, as does everyone involved, the real “battle” will take place “in conference,” which is still three steps away, as I illustrate in From Bill to Law. […]



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