IT’S GOING TO BE A LONG MONTH…. The Senate’s first-ever floor debate on health care reform began yesterday afternoon. It went about as well as the debate has gone over the last several months.
Take the transparency angle, for example. If there’s one thing Senate Republicans have demanded, it’s more sunlight, especially when it comes to posting provisions online for the public to scrutinize. So, yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid probably thought it was a no-brainer when he asked for unanimous consent to have all health care reform amendments posted online before receiving a vote.
It was immediately rejected by Republicans.
A member of the erstwhile “Gang of Six” — the three Republicans and three Democrats from the finance committee who spent months failing to come to agreement on a compromise bill — Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wy.) objected to Reid’s request.
A message left with Enzi wasn’t immediately returned. But on the floor, Enzi said he didn’t trust the other party enough to go along. “In light of some of the trust problems and transparency problems we have, while this appears to lead to greater transparency, we can also see ways that this can limit the ability for the minority to offer amendments. And, therefore, I object,” he said.
The moral of the story is that Republicans have certain priorities, unless Democrats agree, in which case those priorities are objectionable.
And speaking of Enzi, in a floor speech yesterday, the far-right Wyoming senator complained bitterly that the reform bill isn’t … you guessed it … “bipartisan” enough.
“I urge my colleagues to start with a blank piece of paper and develop a bipartisan bill that up to 80 members of the Senate could support. Unfortunately the majority leadership had other ambitions, because the bill being debated today is a testament to a partisan ideological division.”
For crying out loud, if Enzi wants to trash reform, fine. But Enzi was courted repeatedly — the entire reform effort was held up for months in a bid to make him happy — and was offered a compromise that gave him basically everything he wanted.
And yet, in late August, in the midst of “Gang of Six” talks, Enzi delivered a weekly GOP address in which he told ridiculous lies about reform, even lending credence to the “death panel” garbage. It came the same week he told constituents he had no intention of compromising with Democrats — all the while, assuring Democrats he was negotiating in good faith — and was only engaged in talks so he can force concessions on a deal he’s likely to oppose anyway.
It’s going to be a long month.