by Max Brantley
Sen. Blanche Lincoln continues to run hard to the right. She -- along with Sens. Bayh and Nelson -- say they oppose passage of a Senate health bill in the so-called reconciliation process, with fixes for objectionable portions. This process avoids a filibuster and allows approval by a majority of the Senate, 51 votes rather than 60
She runs off at the mouth about this at some length.
U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln today responded to speculation that various health insurance reform issues might be resolved through a parliamentary maneuver known as “budget reconciliation,” which would allow the Senate to pass a package of changes with 51 votes.
“I voted for the Senate-passed health insurance reform legislation because it is a deficit-reduction bill that provides help for our small businesses and forces insurance companies to compete and lower costs. It guarantees benefits for Arkansas’s 500,000 Medicare beneficiaries and closes the doughnut hole to give 175,000 Arkansas seniors up to $1,700 in savings. The bill allows Arkansans with pre-existing conditions to get coverage; bans unfair rate hikes; and won’t allow insurance companies to drop you when you get sick.
“I am opposed to and will fight against any attempts to push through changes to the Senate health insurance reform legislation by using budget reconciliation tactics that would allow the Senate to pass a package of changes to our original bill with 51 votes. I have successfully fought for transparency throughout Senate deliberations on health care, and I will continue to do so. I will not accept any last-minute efforts to force changes to health insurance reform issues through budget reconciliation, and neither will Arkansans. We have worked too long and too hard on this reform effort – we need to get it right.
“The concerns that I hear from Arkansans continue to guide my decisions on health insurance reform. Congress has now reached a critical juncture, and I believe the only way to proceed is deliberately and thoughtfully.
“If the House chooses not to pass the Senate bill as is, then I will work with my colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, to identify the basic reforms that we can agree on. I hope that our efforts going forward will be truly bipartisan, because the high-pitched, partisan tone in Washington is not creating jobs, nor is it solving the health care challenges facing every American, whether it be cost or access.
“In the meantime, Congress also has other important work that is underway and that the American people are relying on us to complete. My number one priority is to rebuild our nation’s economy and put people back to work. We can do this by providing the tools and incentives to the private sector to create new jobs and