Via Joe Bodell at MN “Progressive” Project, it seems that Rep Tim Walz’s (DFL, MN 1st District) feet are cooling down in re the notion of passing the Senate Obamacare bill.
One of the remaining options for the health insurance reform effort is for the House of Representatives to pass the Senate version of the bill verbatim, thus avoiding having to send a modified bill back to the Senate for debate, where it would likely die thanks to 41 votes being stronger than 59.
Which, of course, the Dems could “fix” by invoking the “Nuclear Option” – changing the Senate rules to allow cloture, or the shutting down of filibusters, on a majority vote rather than needing the traditional 60 votes. Which they are loathe to do, since it’ll come back to haunt them when the Senate changes hands again, and that change looks to be closer at hand than they’d figured a year ago.
So it’s back to parliamentary tactics 101:
Thus, [the Tics] need to figure out where House members stand — several have said various things about whether they would vote for the Senate bill, and TPM is making a list — and Minnesota’s Tim Walz looks like he falls into the “maybe” category.
I got the following statement from Walz’s spokesperson:
Congressman Walz has not taken an official stand on whether he would vote for the Senate health care reform bill verbatim if it were put before the House. However, the pay-for-value Medicare reimbursement provisions that currently exist in both bills are an extremely important consideration.
So the absence of a public option in the Senate bill doesn’t sound like a deal-breaker for Walz — but unless it looks like there could be 218 votes for the Senate bill, members are likely to be very skittish about making public pronouncements one way or the other.
“Skittish” is a good word for it. Walz squeaked into office in 2006 by beating “Moderate” Republican Gil Gutknecht in one of the worst elections for Republicans in recent memory (until 2008). He represents a largely red district in the rural southwest part of Minnesota, hundreds of thousands of acres of conservative farmers surrounding a tiny blue outpost in Mankato. He’s right to be skittish; he must looking at Byron Dorgan and Earl Pomeroy’s contortions, and Collin Peterson’s deep ambivalence about throwing himself on a sword for Barack Obama in his very similar Seventh District, and calculating his odds.
CORRECTION: Yeah, I know – Walz is the First, not Third, District. I’m a Saint Paul guy. Anything west of Lyndale is a purely academic concept to me. As is the concept of “a responsive Congressperson…”