The Senate Finance committee has now set a date for their vote – next Tuesday. While the worthless mainstream media talks about “the bill” and there at least five out there, how do we get to a single bill?
Congressional procedures are the same whether we are talking about budget bills, defense bills, or health care reform bills. The major difference being that any bill that raises revenue must originate in the House of Representatives.
A bill is is submitted by a member(s) of Congress in either house and may be referred to committee for review and recommendation if the leader/speaker decides. The bill can be tabled, defeated or recommended by that committee. Bills that make it through committee can be brought up for a vote in whichever house the committee belonged to (House of Representatives or Senate). If the floor vote succeeds it has passed that house. The bill must pass both houses of Congress to be eligible for consideration by the President.
In the case of health care reform, we expect that H.R.3200 will pass the House of Representatives. It looks quite likely that Baucus’ Chairman’s mark will pass the Senate. We have two competing bills that can pass their own houses, but look to stand no chance in the other house. The way Congress resolves this is by bringing the competing bills to Conference Committee and hammering out a compromise bill. This bill must be voted on and accepted by both houses if it expects to see the Oval Office. If the compromise bill makes it to the Executive Suite, the only thing left is for the President to sign it into law.
So what might a compromise bill look like? It might contain the VAT tax from H.R. 3200, the medical business taxes from H.R.3400, a public option, and $300 Billion in Medicare cuts (a middle position between both bills). Because both houses are heavily liberal, it is reasonable to assume that the resultant bill will also be so.