Somewhere in the White House or Capitol Hill, I imagine, is a whiteboard that looks like this:
September Columbus Day Thanksgiving Christmas New Year's State of the Union Valentine's Day
St. Patrick's Day
And now passing health care reform by St. Patrick's Day, which is next Wednesday, seems impossible. But only by a little bit.
Karen Tumulty has all the details over at Swampland, but the gist is this: Assuming reformers get a favorable score on the reconciliation package from the Congressional Budget Office in the next few days--and one should never make assumptions about the CBO, even though a favorable score seems likely--the House will vote on the Senate health care reform bill sometime late next week. Most likely it will be Saturday because the president is leaving Sunday, creating a deadline of sorts. Of course, don't be surprised if Saturday becomes Sunday, as in the wee morning hours of...
Exactly how the House will vote on the Senate bill remains to be seen. There's still talk of a procedure under which the House would pass the reconciliation package and, in the process, "deem" the Senate bill passed without a direct vote on it. Apparently the Senate bill could then go to the president for signature, even as the reconciliation bill went to the Senate for action there. I say "apparently" because I've heard enough conflicting explanations of how this might work that I'm reluctant to state this as fact.
This idea, by the way, continues to baffle me. The technicality of having deemed the Senate bill into law rather than voting on it seems unlikely to spare Democrats the attack ads they want to avoid. At the same time, it seems likely to muddle the message of demanding an "up-or-down vote," which has helped clarified the issue for voters and help put enactment within reach.
Whatever. The important thing is that the bill passes. And that could happen about a week from now, if Obama, Pelosi, and their allies can finally round up the votes.
Update: Politco has a memo from Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who is part of the leadership, with more details. Here's the key passage:
We will likely vote Friday or Saturday. (As you probably saw, POTUS pushed back the departure for his Asian trip from Thursday the 18th to Sunday the 21st; this was not a coincidence.) The Speaker has publically committed to trying to get a vote on both the reconciliation bill and the Senate bill on the same day. They are still trying to work out the final process on this and much of what we do depends on what the Senate Parliamentarian decides. You may be receiving calls about the “Slaughter Rule” and other rumors about what the process will be. Again, please understand: no decision has yet been made on the process for consideration on the House floor.