ABC News' Rick Klein reports: As House Democrats press for final passage of a health care bill, a legislative scenario has emerged whereby the House wouldn't have to take a formal roll call vote to endorse the Senate version of the legislation.
Instead, the House would craft a special piece of legislation declaring the Senate bill to have been passed by the House when the House approves its package of “fixes” under the budget reconciliation process. That would spare House members of the perception of endorsing politically explosive Senate deals such as the “Cornhusker Kickback.”
On ABC’s “Top Line” today, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus, said that scenario is attractive to many House Democrats who have serious reservations about the Senate bill.
“I don’t need to see my colleagues vote for the Senate bill in the House. We don’t like the Senate bill. Why should we be forced to do that?” said Woolsey, D-Calif. “But what we need to know, before any Senate bill is passed, that we have enough of the fixes that we’ve asked for, that we will be satisfied with the final product as a beginning for health care [reform].”
Asked if she would be comfortable with the House voting to deem the bill passed, rather than actually taking a recorded vote on the Senate-passed bill, Woolsey said: “I would be OK with that.”
Woolsey and many of her liberal colleagues will still be unhappy with the final product -- and are vowing to immediately press to improve on it.
“The hardest part for me will be voting for a bill that does not have a public option. But I will reintroduce the public option legislation the day the president signs this health care into law,” Woolsey said. “We will be starting to fix it the day it’s passed. The bit about passing and voting for the Senate bill -- the American people are smarter than this. They know this is what we have to do if we’re going to go forward. They’re not going to blame me for that Senate bill unless I don’t do something to fix it.”
Woolsey also said she’s “concerned” about the messages sent by the recent ethics controversies involving Democrats, including former Rep. Eric Massa and Rep. Charlie Rangel.
“Of course I’m concerned,” she said. “Shame on all of us if we can’t follow the rules. But yes, I worry about that -- not Democrats particularly, but all members of Congress.”
We also addressed the question of whether process matters in the drive for health care reform -- or whether the policies themselves will wind up taking precedence.