Party leaders are beginning to spread the word to rank-and-file lawmakers that they won’t be changing the text of a carefully negotiated “reconciliation” bill to win votes at this point because they can’t undo deals that already have been hammered out, Democratic sources say.
“What they say is it was a tri-party negotiation with the House, Senate and White House,” said one source familiar with the decision.
“No horse trading,” said another source. “They are closed for business.”
This news is not too surprising given that Democrats expect to vote on the bill by this Friday or Saturday. To reach that deadline, Democrats would need to finish up their work on the reconciliation package very quickly. I can only assume deciding to basically finalize the bill is a sign that the House leadership feels they now have the votes they need.
I'm of course extremely skeptical that the “trading post” is truely and completely closed. For one, the bill has not yet been made public, and there is little reasons to keep the bill private if it really is completely finished. Also, like last summer, when Bart Stupak (D-MI) won literally a 12th-hour concession to allow his amendment to be offered on the floor, if Nancy Pelosi feels she must make a last-minute change to the reconciliation bill to ensure health care reform passes, I don't doubt for a second that further changes would be made. I'm sure the leadership wants the rank-and-file to think the reconciliation bill has been finalized, but no bill is final until the last roll call vote is over.