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Where We Stand: Vol. 2

As all eyes will be on President Obama’s speech this evening and with Congress getting a good jump out of the September blocks, I thought it would be useful to asses where we stand in the overall process:

-Health reform bills have passed out of 4 of the 5 relevant committees (3 in the House, 1 in the Senate), with the Senate Finance Committee expected to begin markups and amendments of their version the week of Sept. 21, with or without Republican support.

-The President’s speech should effectively put an end (at least inside the Beltway) to the many August myths, while reiterating the fact that over 80% of the reform proposals are generally agreed upon. The President will also explain details of the plan much more clearly than in recent appearances, and will most likely continue to show support of the public option, though any concrete instructions for its inclusion/removal are unlikely.

-The Finance Committee version will NOT include a public option and it remains to be seen if the eventual HELP and Finance Committee merged bill will be able to pass on the Senate floor containing the provision.

-The House bills will merge into a single bill over the next few weeks, with a possible House floor vote by the end of the month. The single bill WILL include a public option.

-The combined Senate version may still use the reconciliation process (see earlier post on specifics) if the bill hits further delay. Stay tuned to this particular front, as it is the Senate floor bill that will prove how strong reform will ultimately be.

-Once bills pass the House and the Senate, a Conference Committee made up of Representatives and Senators will construct a single bill to be voted on a final time, presumably by mid to late October.