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Posts tagged “House of Representatives

Congresssman Runyan? Former Eagle running in 2010

Former Eagles offensive lineman Jon Runyan will retire after this season and run for Congress next year, the Associated Press Reports.

It has been rumored for a while that Runyan, 35, would challenge Democratic incumbent John Adler next year in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District, which stretches across Southern New Jersey from Philadelphia’s east suburbs, through the Pine Barrens region to the Jersey Shore. Runyan made the challenge official yesterday. The district is very much a swing district, with a Cook Partisan Voting Index (CPVI) rating of R+1. Adler narrowly won the district by 3.4% in 2008.

“I look forward to a successful end to my career on the field,” Runyan said, “and a spirited campaign against Congressman Adler in 2010.”

Runyan hasn’t played since the Eagles let him go after having surgery on his right knee following last season. He signed a free agent deal with the San Diego Chargers yesterday, which he said would be his last NFL deal.


Reid announces Senate healthcare reform bill

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) unveiled his chamber’s version of Healthcare Reform yesterday. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Senate’s version will guarantee health insurance coverage for 94% of Americans and cost $849 billion over 10 years, which will ultimately reduce the budget deficit by $127 billion.

“We’re proud of these figures,” Reid told reporters. “Not only do we make [health insurance] affordable for every American, we certainly do it in a fiscally responsible way.”

As expected, the Senate version includes a public option with an opt-out clause, persumably allowing Democrats from more pro-Republican constituencies the cover of voting for the bill, or at least for cloture, while claiming that the bill will give states the option to not participate if they so choose. The Senate version, like the House version, prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for abortions.

Now the tough part begins for Harry Reid. He has to make sure he has 60 votes on board to invoke cloture and get the bill to the floor for a vote. If he does and it passes, the Senate and House versions will have to be combined in conference committee, after which both chambers will have to pass the final version. So while Sen. Reid deserves praise for getting healthcare reform this far in the Senate, there is still a ways to go.



Health care reform: Don’t pop the champagne corks yet

President Obama, Democrats and health care reform supporters are giddy today over the House passing its version of reform late last night. It is certainly a big step in the right direction – a bigger one than any administration and Congress has taken since Lyndon Johnson created Medicare in the 1960s.

But I would caution those supporters to not get too giddy. Because there are still several mountains left to climb before this is a done deal.

The next one is in the Senate, which has yet to pass its own version. On paper, this shouldn’t be a problem – the Dems and those caucusing with them control 60 seats and have the Vice President – more than enough to get a simple majority. In practice, however, it’s not nearly that simple.

Senate debate rules require 60 votes to “invoke cloture,” or stop debate and bring a bill to an up-or-down vote. So Majority Leader Harry Reid actually needs 60 votes to get this done. And there are a number of Democratic caucus members who represent conservative constituencies (or are just in the pockets of the insurance companies) who will be a tough sell to get on board with a public option – one of the most critical parts of any real healthcare reform, in my opinion. This group includes Ben Nelson (Nebraska), Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas), Mary Landrieu (Louisiana), Evan Bayh (Indiana) and Joe Lieberman (Connecticut). Lincoln and Bayh are both up for re-election next year. But Lieberman could be an even bigger fly in the ointment – he represents a rather liberal state (which went for Obama by 20 points last year) and votes with the Dems on most social issues. But he voted for the Iraq War and campaigned for Republican John McCain against Obama last year, even speaking at the Republican National Convention.

Reid could get around cloture rules by trying to pass the Senate’s version through budget reconcilliation, where he would need only 50 votes plus Vice President Biden. But this move would require the spending authorization to be renewed after 5 years. If the Republicans were to regain control of the Senate by that point, you know what would happen then.

The bill has already been delayed in the Senate and now may not even get passed this year, breaking President Obama’s second deadline. And if the debate goes into next year, moderate and conservative Democrats who are up for re-election in otherwise Republican districts or states are going to be even more reluctant to get on board.

Even if the Senate passes its version, it will have to be merged with the House version in conference committee. Both chambers will then have to pass the final combined version before President Obama can sign it. Same rules and obstacles will still apply.

So be happy with this step forward. But don’t pop the champagne corks just yet.

House passes healthcare reform bill

After a day of wrangling and debate and voting on amendments, the House of Representatives passed its healthcare reform bill late tonight. Most of the Blue Dogs (a group of 45 or so moderate or conservative Democrats) voted nay, and others needed an amendment proposed by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) that banned plans that paid for abortions from the proposed new exchange to be satisfied. But the bill passed by a 220-215 vote shortly after 11 p.m. ET. Joseph Cao (R-LA), who was elected from an overwhelmingly pro-Democratic district in New Orleans last year after “Dollar Bill” Jefferson was indicted for corruption (most famously having $90K in cash in his freezer), was the only Republican to vote for it.

President Obama gave House democrats a pep talk before today’s debate and voting. He reminded them to “answer the call of history.”

Now the ball is in the Senate’s court. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who I’ve been very critical of, is showing some fire in trying to get his caucus on board and avert a Republican filibuster (he needs 60 votes to invoke cloture). He’s running into a lot of resistance from Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, who was primaried out by Ned Lamont in 2006, won re-election as an independent, caucused with the Democrats, but then campaigned for Republican John McCain in last year’s Presidential election. I’m not sure what Lieberman is trying to do – CT is a very Democratic state. But he could be a bigger fly in the ointment than Olympia Snowe or even Ben Nelson.

Anywho, if the Senate passes its version – and who knows if or when that will be – the two versions will go to a conference committee to form one final bill, which both chambers will vote on one last time.

Reid does something Right after all

I didn’t think Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had it in him to pull off something like this. But despite the obstacles in the Senate (named Nelson, Lincoln, Bayh, Landrieu and Lieberman), and even with President Obama himself reportedly pushing back against it, Reid has gotten a public option into the health care reform bill that will go before the whole Senate. And presumably he wouldn’t have let it go to the floor unless he had the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture and put it to a vote.

This public option, unlike the House version, does have an opt-out clause for states. But that’s a fair and acceptable compromise, IMO. And it’s far better than the “trigger” option championed by Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and reportedly favored by the White House, which would have been too easy for the insurance companies to game.

Maybe the “pushback” from the White House was nothing more than Obama not being sure that Reid could get the votes and wanting to make sure he could at least get something to the floor. Maybe it was just another case of unnamed sources trying to push their own agenda and the media going along with it. I certainly hope Obama wasn’t naive enough to think that getting one lone Republican on board (and the most moderate one in the Senate at that) was worth badly weakening a bill that will ultimately be a big part of his legacy.

If the Senate can invoke cloture and pass this version (and, again, you’d think Reid wouldn’t announce this to the public unless he was sure those things would happen), the House and Senate bills will go into a conference committee to form the final bill that both chambers would have to approve before President Obama can sign it. The fact that both the House and Senate versions will apparently have a public option raises the likelihood that the final bill will have one too.

There is still work to be done. But if Harry Reid pulls this off, I’ll have to admit that he does have some cojones after all.

Obama invites cabinet, congressmen for some basketball

President Obama is apparently inviting his cabinet and congressmen over to play on his basketball court at the White House tomorrow night.

Per the linked story, the list of invitees includes Secretary of Housing & Urban Development Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Representative Mike Arcuri (D-NY), Representative John Boccieri (D-OH), Representative Brad Ellsworth (D-IN), Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Representative Baron Hill (D-IN),
Representative Jay Inslee (D-WA), Representative Frank Kratovil (D-MD), Representative Rick Larsen (D-WA), Representative Patrick Murphy (D-PA), Representative John Shimkus (R-IL) and Representative Heath Shuler (D-NC).

Do Eric Cantor, John Boehner and Joe “You Lie!” Wilson have any game?