January 19th, 2010
10:55 PM ET
13 years ago

House Dems largely reject idea of passing Senate health care bill

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/19/art.anthonyweiner0118.gi.jpg caption="New York Democrat Rep. Anthony Weiner predicted Tuesday night the Senate bill wouldn't have the votes to pass the House."]Washington (CNN) - In the face of a major political upset Tuesday night and with Republican Scott Brown poised to fill Ted Kennedy's Massachusetts Senate seat – ending the Senate Democrats losing their filibuster proof majority – House Democrats across the political spectrum largely rejected the idea of passing the Senate health care bill.

Liberal New York Democrat Anthony Weiner predicted the Senate bill wouldn't have the votes to pass the House.

Weiner ridiculed House Democratic leaders for holding a meeting to brief House Democrats on negotiations with the White House on a health care bill, telling reporters: "They're talking as if, 'what our deal is, what our negotiators are at the White House.' Yeah, and then the last line is, 'Pigs fly out of my ass' ... It's just, we've got to recognize we are in an entirely different scenario."

Several rank-and-file Democratic lawmakers on the right and the left suggested it may be best now to scrap their big overhaul bill and pass a smaller measure with provisions they can all agree on, such barring discrimination by insurers for those Americans who have pre-existing conditions and closing the donut hole to bring down prescription drug costs. But it's unclear if that option, like other contingency plans Democrats are considering, is doable now.

Weiner argued the Massachusetts results demonstrated that Democrats have to change their strategy on health care.

"Large numbers of independent voters saying they're upset about health care, that's not just their fault, that's our fault too," he said. "And we have to think about what we're doing wrong here, and to have a conversation as if nothing happened, whether you're in Massachusetts or not , is being tone deaf."

Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak, who led the charge for language to restrict abortion coverage in the House bill, flatly rejected the Senate's version of health care reform. "The Senate bill is a non starter for most members," he said.

Conservative Indiana Democrat Brad Ellsworth, like Weiner, predicted the Senate bill couldn't pass. He told reporters he opposed it mainly because he objected to the inclusion of a special deal for Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson to cover all of that state's costs for expanding Medicaid coverage.

Some Democrats suggested the prospect of no health care bill passing was more likely that rushing to pass the Senate's bill. "If it comes down to that Senate bill or nothing I think we're going to end up with nothing. I don't hear a lot of support on our side for that bill," Massachusetts Democrat Stephen Lynch said.

Lynch shot down the suggestion that Democrats could first pass the Senate bill, then pass a second bill that would add some of the changes Congressional leaders have negotiated with the White House. "I don't think that's going to happen," he said. "We keep sending bills to the Senate and they just never come back, so I guess I've lost my faith in anything happening quickly that requires Senate action."

Several other Democrats echoed Lynch's concerns, telling CNN even if there was firm commitment to pass a second bill with changes negotiated between House and Senate leaders and the White House, they wouldn't vote yes.

But some House Democrats, notably Rhode Island's Patrick Kennedy, did leave the door open to considering the Senate-passed bill.

"I think we could pass the Senate bill and come back later and fix the parts that are most egregious," Kennedy said. "Health care needs to go forward. If it's a message on anything it's that we got the message messed up, not that we got the package messed up."

Baron Hill, a Blue Dog from Indiana, said the idea of passing the Senate bill is "the talk of the town."

Hill said he still needs to look at details of Senate bill, but is open to taking it up, saying, "If that's the only option in town then maybe that's what we ought to do."

Filed under: Anthony Weiner • House Democrats
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. aug2wash

    The house as a healthcare bill it passed and it is not the same as the senate bill. If the house or the senate would just go along with the others bill then you know this is not the peoples bill but the Democratic leadership forcing it way, not the peoples way. The bill needs to be redone, bring health care costs down and that starts with medical college costs, hospital stay costs, testing costs. Tort reform is a most. Both parties have some good ideas on health care and they need to get it right so if waiting for the vote til after the new Senator is seated it might just do health care talks good.

    January 20, 2010 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  2. Unemployed Dem

    There has been an eathquake in Washington D.C. and it started in Massachusetts.

    It has now become very obvious to a number of Democratic Senators that the Obama party is over after less than a year.

    It sounds like House Democrates are now trying to save their jobs by finding a way to kill the health bill.

    How much time and money has congress wasted on this one bill? with 27 million Americans out of work!

    January 20, 2010 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  3. Mike

    The party is over, Libs. Back to reality. The Obuckethead experiment has failed. Now, it is time to go to work, forget this idiotic administration, and wait till November to clean up this mess. uhbama is now a lame duck, along with pelosi, reid, and the rest of the liberal fools who have tried to destroy this country.

    January 20, 2010 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  4. J.V.Hodgson

    Gosh if anything is overplayed this is.
    1) This mans (Brown) Senate seat gain represents1% of of total Senators.
    2) Also less than 1.3% of all voters in the USA assuming a total electorate of around 4m in Massachusetts, and less than 1.3% at a full election time when democrats here win.
    Me, I see a House and Senate compromise with the house offering some Republican carrots and the democratic congressmen saying yes, and asking why Republicans cannot vote for what they asked for.

    January 20, 2010 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  5. jules sand-perkins

    Pretty swift (in the sense of brains and of time) reaction from Weiner, whom we thank for his eloquence about pork.

    January 20, 2010 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
  6. BJ

    I hate to admit it but the DNC has absolutely no backbone at all. BOOOOO!

    January 20, 2010 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  7. Ron

    I hope the Democrats read the message – America is NOT happy with the way THEY are handling needed health care reform. If not, the only way they will maintain control of Congress is to have Obama endorse and campaign for all Republicans in 2010.

    January 20, 2010 02:44 am at 2:44 am |
  8. Valerie Ploch

    Kill the bill! We don't want Socialized medicine in this country!
    We will vote out all incumbants who vote for any of these bills! I will donate to the opponent of any politician who signs this bill regardless of their state!

    January 20, 2010 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  9. Pat

    Since they never had a 60 vote "super majority" with Leiberman and the "conservative" Democrats, maybe they should put the public option in and maybe even single payer, pass it through reconciliation and just let the Republicans try to take it away if they ever get in power. Time to start doing things like the Republicans did with a far less majority. Wake up Democrats!

    January 20, 2010 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  10. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    Of course the Dems are wary of the HC bill in it's current form. It is radioactive, and to keep pushing it will help unseat even more.

    The fact is the Obamacrats have not listened to the voice of the people. And now they heard it LOUD and CLEAR.

    Their best bet is to scrap the current bill and start over or really revise it to what the people want. And NO MORE giveaways to get a vote or two (note the Nebraska present) and include the people.

    How's that HOPE and CHANGE working now??

    January 20, 2010 03:54 am at 3:54 am |
  11. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Personally, I think a lot of Democrats in Congress are relieved that now they have an excuse for basically dropping health care. They'll wait and "evaluate" and discuss and wait some more and on and on ad infinitum. Unlike "House Democratic leaders," most members of Congress are realistic enough to see the Massachusetts election as a very firm "Hell, no!" from American voters concerning health care and, not being political suicidal, have no interest in further antagonising those voters.

    Even with all the dodging and weaving and "I never really was in favour of it" the Dems can manage over the next ten months, my prediction for next November is that Republicans and Independents are going to beat the tar out of anyone who ever supported Obamacare, tax & trade, or Obama's bailouts.

    January 20, 2010 04:12 am at 4:12 am |
  12. tez

    It's sad to see that this may be the end of healthcare reform. I have no insurance and was diagnosed with a form of cancer that could have been treated early but I had to wait 11 Months to have the surgery because of the runaround I got from evrywhere. It's like i wasn't important because I had no insurance. I'm still waiting to see if they got it all. If they didn't and it spread, my fear is I'll die waiting to find someone to help me get treatment. It seems that the republican and independent agenda don't think i'm important enough to have insurance even though I can't afford it. I am terrified for my life right now.

    January 20, 2010 05:38 am at 5:38 am |
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