Franken: Make Congress “pledge and pass” health insurance reform


I use the words “interesting” and “fascinating” with what could reasonably be characterized as reckless abandon when it comes to politics — and with good reason, thank you very much.

This time it’s the current state of the health insurance reform effort. Back from the brink of death is the public option, with more than half of the Democratic Senators necessary having already signed on to an effort to pass fixes to the Senate bill via reconciliation in conjunction with the House passing the existing Senate bill verbatim and then “ping-ponging” the fixes over to President Obama’s desk.

Got all that?

Sen. Al Franken breaks it down thusly in an email blast sent last night:

This week President Obama asked Congress to stand strong and finish the job of fixing our busted health insurance system. I couldn’t agree more, and now we’ve got a plan to get this done.

I’m calling this strategy “Pledge & Pass,” and it’s a simple, two-step plan for passing meaningful health insurance reform. I believe it’s our job as public servants to actually serve the public, and ending the suffering of millions of Americans under our current system is exactly what our constituents expect and deserve.

Here’s the plan.

Step 1. United States Senators pledge to fix elements of the bill that are not acceptable to many House members, and the House pass the Senate bill as is.

Step 2. We in the Senate fulfill our pledge to the House, fix the elements that need fixing, and pass this critical legislation through a filibuster-proof budget process known as reconciliation.

This effort breaks all the “rules” we learned about in Civics 101 back in Junior High — with all these procedural tactics for getting the damned thing done, and the year of posturing and political ninjitsu, who knows how it even relates to all those legislative procedures we dutifully learned were handed down to us by the Founding Fathers?

The bigger point, however, is that it’s happening. Finally, after all the recriminations and Tea Party nonsense and polls and media blitzes and everything else — the effort is finally being undertaken by leaders who are beginning to realize that getting the job done is the best political move of all. And it’s forcing Senators and Representatives to work together, even before a conference committee, to make the whole machine sputter, cough, squeal, and finally rumble to life.

Pretty cool stuff, if you ask me.