House to take a leap of faith

HOUSE TO TAKE A LEAP OF FAITH…. There’s still some question about what, exactly, the Senate parliamentarian is advising when it comes to the budget reconciliation fix on health care. The last we heard, President Obama will have to sign the Senate bill into law and then Congress can approve the so-called “sidecar.” There have since been some indications that the parliamentarian’s guidance has been misinterpreted.

Nevertheless, as of this afternoon, the House is proceeding as if the initial reports were accurate.

At her presser today, in a reference to the president, Nancy Pelosi said: “People would rather he waited until the Senate acted, but the Senate Parliamentarian said in order for them to do a reconciliation based on the Senate bill, it must be signed by the President.”

Separately, on the House floor today, Eric Cantor pressed Steny Hoyer on the issue, asking Hoyer whether it’s his position that the Senate bill “must be signed into law before the Senate can even take up the reconciliation package.”

“I think the gentleman correctly states the Senate parliamentarian’s position,” Hoyer replied.

Unless this changes — and at this point, everything is open to revision at all times — the gameplan starts to look clear. The House will eventually get a CBO score on the reconciliation budget fix, and send it to the House Budget Committee. At the same time, Democratic leaders will continue to work on securing 216 votes for the Senate bill — they’re not yet close — and intend to hold a floor vote within the next 10 days.

If it’s approved and sent to the president, the House will immediately complete its work on the reconciliation budget fix, with the goal of sending it to the Senate for approval before Congress’ spring break.

To follow up on yesterday’s report, this of course means that the House will simply have to take a leap of faith — trusting Senate Democrats to pass the fix they say they want to pass. I strongly believe the House has nothing to worry about on this front. Kevin Drum struck a more measured note, but nevertheless concluded, “At some point, if Harry Reid and the appropriate committee chairmen all sign on, and Barack Obama signs on, and the House leadership feels comfortable, then you pull the trigger. The odds of getting screwed aren’t zero, but they’re pretty damn small. We’ve been at this for over a year, and at long last the time for posturing and gameplaying is over. The holdouts need to dig into their consciences and do the right thing. Let’s get on with it.”