The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Columns

January 9, 2010

Dan Ray, guest columnist: Bills can still be terminated

We still have an opportunity to terminate the health care bills that have been passed in the Senate and the House.

Each have passed their version of health care. Now it is the responsibility of the House and the Senate to merge these two bills together making them one. Upon doing so, each will then vote upon this merged bill. Should it pass in the House and the Senate, it will then go to the president for his signature, thereby making it law.

Right now, it seems that the Democrats wish to circumvent the “traditional” way of doing that, which is appointing a formal House-Senate conference committee to reconcile the differing bills. The customary format for that is to have a committee chairman appointed from the majority party. In this case from the Democratic Party, and then have other senior lawmakers from both parties and houses participate in typically perfunctory public meetings to merge the two bills together. Usually, at the same time, other negotiations are occurring behind closed doors to facilitate this same ending.

It’s being said, however, in the case of this health care bill, that the final compromise talks will essentially now be a three-way negotiations involving only top Democrats in the House and Senate and the White House, a structure that gives unusual latitude to Sen. Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

If they do use this scenario and reach an agreement, then a vote will most likely be taken as soon as possible, so as to have it to the president by his proposed deadline — which is before his State of the Union address in early February.

All of this, of course, is being done without any input from the Republicans in our Senate or House of Representatives.

This seems to be the way that our Democratic representatives are heading. So much for the transparency promised by this administration throughout its campaigning. And, so much for the openness that our own Sen. Claire McCaskill promised throughout the summer as she attended the different town hall meetings around the state.

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