Public Policy Contributor Ron Angus writes…
Well, it’s time to raise the white flag in reference to the current healthcare reform process winding its way through Washington, DC. Not the white flag of surrender, but the white flag signaling the last lap of the race! The most recent lap in this race was completed when the Senate finalized work on HR 3590. SHM formally commented on many provisions of HR 3590 and forwarded those thoughts to key Senators several weeks before the final bill was passed. The bill passed on the morning of Christmas Eve without a single Republican vote. It is an interesting historical footnote that the time and date of this vote were dictated respectively by imminent severe winter weather in Washington and the Senate’s impending Christmas Holiday.
The next step in the process, as we have all been told since high school civics class, is for a conference committee to be convened which is composed of Senate and House conferees. This committee would try and fuse the four thousand plus pages that comprise House Bill HR 3962 and Senate Bill HR 3590 into one unified piece of legislation or a “mash up” if one chooses to use internet parlance. They would have just a few minor details to reconcile. Well, it seems our high school civics teachers might not have given us the full story. Despite the fact that the US House of Representatives did not reconvene until Monday, January 11, members of Congress and their staffs have apparently been busy the last few weeks trying to forge a work around to avoid using a conference committee! Of course, this is all behind closed doors and flies in the face of President Obama’s desire to have an unprecedentedly transparent process. So far the process has been about as transparent as a piece of French Toast.
Nonetheless, I am pretty confident we are all going to be eating that French toast before Valentine’s Day. The supposition is that this important legislation must be quickly wrapped up before President Obama’s State of the Union address which is scheduled for . . . . wait a minute . . .it hasn’t been scheduled yet. It seems as though the President won’t schedule his speech until Congress has passed the final healthcare reform legislation, but he hasn’t gone so far as to draw a line in the sand by setting a specific date which might have the appearance of pushing Congress along.
One critical official decision has been made though: the speech won’t be given on February 2. I was happy to hear that because there would be a nuclear meltdown at my full house the likes of which have not been seen since Chernobyl if the President’s visage graced my TV instead of Jack Shephard’s on that date. This also raises the question I put to you of which of the two is more complicated: the healthcare reform legislation or the tale of the Oceanic 6. You decide.