Let the Senate vote (on health-care reform)!
Democrats and other supporters of health care reform have a very simple message for center-right Dems who oppose fixing the system: just let the Senate vote.
The issue, of course, is cloture. Reform proponents don't need 60 senators to pass a bill; they need 60 senators to simply let a vote happen. The message to Nelson, Lieberman, Lincoln, Landrieu, et al, is, "Agree to let the Senate vote on the bill, and then feel free to vote against it."
Obviously, Republicans are going to fight like hell to blur the difference between the procedural vote and the actual vote. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky said the procedural vote "will be treated as a vote on the merits of the bill." Why? Because he says so.
And Sen. Evan Bayh (D) of Indiana, one of the Senate's more needlessly conservative Dems, apparently wants to help advance McConnell's GOP message.
That's right, Evan Bayh, supposedly a Democrat, is talking, as usual, a whole lot like a Republican -- and, in this case, like the rest of the obstructionists in the GOP.
Remember, this is total nonsense. Senators voting to end debate on a bill, only to ultimately vote against the same bill, happens all the time. Joe Lieberman has done it repeatedly.
Of course there's a difference between procedural and policy votes. Bayh is helping Republicans for no reason.
It couldn't be simpler -- if legislation Bayh doesn't like comes to the floor, he can vote against it. Before that, he can offer amendments, give speeches, and encourage others to agree with him. Just let the Senate vote.
Pretty simple. And yet Democrats -- who should, one thinks, support a little thing called democracy -- can't even agree that there should at the very least be a floor vote, up or down, on the policy, on an actual reform package. How is it a good idea, other than to kill it, to toss a bill into the morass of procedure, and to deny a vote, a democratic vote, on procedural grounds, or to let a procedural vote be the one vote that matters, as the Republicans and some Democrats want? Shouldn't the people's representatives be given a chance to vote on a bill, up or down -- that is, on the substance of a bill? Yes, but of course the opponents of reform want to require a 60-vote supermajority for passage, not the 51-vote majority that would almost certainly get reform -- meaningful reform, likely with a fairly robust public option -- passed.
And with the likes of Evan Bayh, Joe Lieberman, and other quasi-Republicans around, it's an uphill battle for Democrats.
By the way, Bayh also opened the door for reconciliation, the process that would allow passage of a bill with just 51 votes (or 50 plus Biden, presumably).
Alas, it's not that simple, though it should certainly be on the table.