This is a revealing moment from Monday's markup of the health care bill in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee that illustrates the level of procedural obstruction Senate Republicans are willing to rise to in order to impede its progress and in the hopes of killing its momentum.
At the opening of Monday's hearing, Sen. Dodd asked Sen. Enzi (R-WY), the ranking Republican on the committee, if he would agree to accept by unanimous consent a total of 64 Republican amendments. After a whisper from an aide, Enzi, a little perplexed and not a little embarrassed, refused to allow the 64 Republican amendments to be accepted, lowering his voice to mumble, "I think some of our members want votes on some of those." Dodd's visible exasperation and disbelief is priceless.
if Congress enters recess with weeks of work left to do, party leaders may have to make a call; and those who oppose passing health care through the reconciliation process -- Republicans and some Democrats -- might be trying to run out the clock -- to call leadership's bluff, or, at the very least, to touch off a game of legislative chicken.
This is just one example and there are certainly many more ways for those in both Houses opposed to the bill generally and the public option specifically to impede its progress in the coming days. For instance, work on the Senate HELP bill, delayed as it has been, is far ahead of that on the Senate Finance bill.
And with some Democrats, like Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), using the bill's uncertain fate in the Senate to pre-emptively excuse themselves for signaling that they fully intend to vote for a bill without a public plan, whipping the public option in the House is likely the only shot progressives inside and outside of Congress have to ensure a public option remains in the final bill.
If it doesn't succeed, if those who say they support a public option - like John Larson, Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro, Jim Himes, and Chris Murphy - refuse to draw a line in the sand now in the full knowledge that a public option is likely to be ripped out of the final bill if they don't, it's silly not to expect the delaying and obstructing of Mike Enzi and his allies in the Senate to win out over progressive "good intentions" and strategic ineptitude in the end.