March 21st, 2010
02:49 PM ET

Health care battle far from over

Will the health care fight end with the expected vote by the House today? Not exactly. It's all a bit complicated, but here's an attempt at an explanation.

First, there are two things at play.

There's the health care bill that the Senate approved in December - that's what the House will vote on today. If it passes, it becomes law. At that time, health care reform will be a reality, only awaiting the president’s signature.

But many House members were unhappy with the Senate bill so they will then vote on a package of changes that congressmen and women want. That is the measure referred to as "reconciliation," a way to more easily reconcile differences between the House and Senate bills.

The changes are in essence a promise from Senate Democratic leaders that they will alter the Senate bill to the liking of House Democrats who objected to some of its provisions. 

If that is passed, the Senate will vote on that package of changes to its bill, perhaps as early as Tuesday. If and when that happens, expect the president to sign it swiftly and victory parties from the White House on down.

On Saturday, the House Rules Committee set the rules for how today’s debate and vote will proceed.

Democrats decided not to use the "self-executing" rule, or what you may have heard being called "deem and pass."  The controversial legislative mechanism would have avoided a direct vote on the health care legislation.

Still with us, right?

To recap, there are three votes expected today.

First, the House will vote on the rules  of the debate put together by the committee on Saturday.  Then there will be two hours of debate on the legislation. 

Next, the House will hold an up-or-down vote on the $875 billion reform plan that the Senate passed in December. If it passes, it goes to President Obama to sign and the country's health care system is forever changed.

White House aides say the president won't sign the bill before Monday.

Finally, the House will hold a vote on the reconciliation measure.

But, wait, it isn't over yet. If the House passes the reconciliation package and any of the changes are struck down by the Senate, then that bill goes back to the House for a vote.

When the reconciliation measure goes to the Senate, expect a couple days of debate and moves by Republicans to obstruct its passage. Democrats need only a simple majority - 51 votes - to pass it. 

If the package is approved, than the health care reform fight finally comes to an end.

Until, of course, the midterm elections.

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soundoff (215 Responses)
  1. vicki countz

    Jena, Are you kidding me? Where have you been? Do you read? Everyone that wants
    healthcare has it now. It is called the emergency room. Tricare, Medicaid, Medicare,
    Chip, Schip, Chipra on & on. There is also county insurance. So hello get a clue!
    They are all bankrupt as is our country. This is a trillion $ bailout.

    March 23, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. vicki countz

    Brendon, you obviously were not born in America. All men are created equal means at
    the time of birth we are all equal, it is what your parents and you, yourself make of your life that allows you (through class struggle) to become equal. You need to brush up on
    your English as well. Why are you in America (stan) if you don't like the opportunities?
    Profit is what allows the money to flow, where else would it come from, a money tree?

    March 23, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. vicki countz

    Ryan, HAHA. i see your a hand outer and not a hand that makes America (stan)
    prosperous. I call it "the playpen syndrome". Have you ever been anywhere?

    March 23, 2010 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. vicki countz

    Dave, you are so RIGHT. It is obvious when people have not taken Econ 101 or critical thinking in college. Or have they read the Constitution, nor read the bill of rights. Many think the 2nd bill of rights FDR proposed are ACTUAL bills of rights! How can they make a
    VALID argument? Visiting other countries will help them see the light!!

    March 23, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
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