It could be a long and snowy weekend on Capitol Hill for our sparring U.S. senators, who were busy antagonizing each other and making various accusations and threats Friday as they wrestled over the health care bill. The Democrats’ lone holdout, Sen. Ben Nelson, was the subject of a woo-in conducted by his peers, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., remained indignant about Sen. Al Franken’s refusal to grant Sen. Joe “Power Jowls” Lieberman extra talking time during Thursday’s floor session.
Meanwhile, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., took advantage of the wintry forecast in issuing a challenge to his Democratic opponents, first conjuring up frosty meteorological imagery before sounding a populist note of warning with vaguely biblical undertones. This all would be mildly amusing if it weren’t such a starkly tragic reminder of the built-in perils of a bipartisan political system when it comes to getting crucial legislation passed before H-E-double-hockey-sticks freezes over. —KA
AP via Google News:
Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has been preparing a final series of revisions to the 2,074-page bill, with Senate debate expected to begin on them shortly after they are made public sometime early Saturday.
Reid was involved in the negotiations with Nelson, as were White House officials, and there were also talks with Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, who voted for an earlier version of the legislation when it cleared the Senate Finance Committee.
Republicans, who have been accused by Rush Limbaugh and others for failing to oppose the legislation vigorously enough, have threatened to force Senate clerks to read the entire text of the proposed changes aloud, a process that could consume eight hours or so.
At his news conference, McConnell taunted Democrats in terms that recalled Obama’s campaign promise of “change we can believe in.”
The health care bill, he said, “isn’t change you can believe in; it’s change that’s astonishing. We all know that promises are made in political campaigns, but this is a complete reversal — there is no change. This is business as usual.”
“Tomorrow, there’s going to be a snowstorm, and we’ll be coming in RVs and everything will be paralyzed as our nation’s capital always is when there’s a snowstorm.”
He added, “But the fact is that there’s a firestorm out there in America. That firestorm says stop this. Stop this.”
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., expanded the criticism. He recalled that Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., had been turned down on Thursday when he made a routine request to speak for additional seconds on the Senate floor.
What Sen. Ben Nelson wants, Sen. Ben Nelson may well get in his down-to-the-wire negotiations with his Democratic colleagues.