Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ping Pong and Health Care Reform

Remember your high school civics class? You were taught how a bill becomes law.
  1. House and Senate pass their own versions
  2. A conference committee creates one final bill
  3. House and Senate pass it and the President signs it into law.

Wrong. It's likely that there won't be a conference committee for health care reform. Ping Pong will take its place.

Jonathan Cohn at the New Republic reports that senior Capitol Hill staffers confirm that it's "almost certain" that Senate and House Democrats are not going to convene a conference committee. "Doing so would allow Democrats to avoid a series of procedural steps - - not least among them, a series of special motions in the Senate, each requiring a vote with full debate - - that Republicans could use to stall deliberations, just as they did in November and December. There will almost certainly be full negotiations but no formal conference..."

Ping Pong foils Republican maneuvers to stall the Health Care Reform legislation. "With ping-ponging, the chambers send legislation back and forth to one another until they finally have an agreed-upon version of the bill. But even ping-ponging can take different forms and some people use the term generically to refer to any informal negotiations."

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