Vote of Confidence
Submitted By Todd on January 17th at 11:53pm
A panicky White House and Democratic allies scrambled Sunday for a plan to salvage their hard-fought health care package in case a Republican wins Tuesday's Senate race in Massachusetts, which would enable the GOP to block further Senate action. The likeliest scenario would require persuading House Democrats to accept a bill the Senate passed last month, despite their objections to several parts.Aides consulted Sunday amid fears that Republican Scott Brown will defeat Democrat Martha Coakley in the special election to fill the late Edward M. Kennedy's seat. A Brown win would give the GOP 41 Senate votes, enough to filibuster and block final passage of the House-Senate compromise on health care now being crafted.The House plan would increase taxes on millionaires while the Senate plan would tax so-called Cadillac, high-cost health insurance plans enjoyed by many corporate executives as well as some union members.When the House passed its version, members assumed it would be reconciled with the Senate bill and then sent back to both chambers for final approval, even if by the narrowest of margins.A GOP win in Massachusetts on Tuesday would likely kill that plan, because Republicans could block Senate action on the reconciled bill.The newly discussed fallback would require House Democrats to swallow hard and approve the Senate-passed bill without changes. President Barack Obama could sign it into law without another Senate vote needed.House leaders would insist that the Senate make some changes later under a complex plan called "budget reconciliation." It requires only a simple majority, but it's unclear whether that could happen.