With so much going on politically in the past few days, a quick comment by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has escaped much scrutiny.
Senator Reid, for those who missed it, suggested on Tuesday that the Senate may not pass health-care legislation this year. “We’re not going to be bound by any timelines,” he stated. “We’re going to do this legislation as expeditiously as we can, but we’re going to do it as fairly as we can.”
It’s a small comment, one made perhaps without much thought. Just a couple of hours later, his office sought to clarify his statement (that is, to distance Senator Reid from, well, Senator Reid), insisting that they are on their timeline.
Except, of course, everyone knows that they aren’t. The final Senate draft hasn’t even been inked yet. There is much time left on the clock to finish things up by the end of the year, but the process is dragging out. Remember the August recess deadline? The we’ll-vote-in-September goal? Or the pre-turkey November vote?
And if the Senate can’t pass legislation before Christmas – as now even Senator Reid is speculating on – it seems unlikely that the sort of sweeping reforms touted by the White House will pass in an election year.
On Saturday, the House will vote on its version of the health-care bill; all eyes are on the Senate. Senator Reid has five votes to clear. (For a readable summary of the necessary votes, see here.) And those are big votes. Post-Virginia and New Jersey, he’ll need to marshal the support of senators like Mary Landrieu, up for re-election in just 12 months and facing a fight, and already skeptical.
The House bill does nothing to address the harshest attacks of critics. Senator Reid’s musings to date suggest that he isn’t in a highly conciliatory mood either. These guys are bold and aggressive.
Mind you, so was Governor Corzine.
This isn’t over just yet.