Sen. Tom Harkin told POLITICO that Senate Democratic leaders have decided to go the reconciliation route. The House, he said, will first pass the Senate bill after Senate leaders demonstrate to House leaders that they have the votes to pass reconciliation in the Senate.
Harkin is saying that House Democrats must first pass the current comprehensive Senate health care bill unchanged with just the promise that Senate Democrats will vote for a series of fixes later.
If House Democrats do vote for the Senate health care bill, they better be prepared to own the Senate bill unchanged. There are many stumbling blocks that could stop a reconciliation bill, and, with Obama already delivered a “win” on health care, it is not hard to imagine all the energy getting sucked out of the reconciliation push. That is especially a problem given the fact that the reconciliation sidecar is not expected to contain any popular elements like a public option, Medicare buy-in, or drug re-importation that could create grassroots energy and support for the reconciliation bill.