I have an editorial in today’s POLITICO on the Democrats’ procedural gimmicks and faulty pay-for system that cost the passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
In spite of fierce public opposition, the Democrats’ sizable House majority secured passage of President Barack Obama’s controversial overhaul of the nation’s health care system. But this same majority failed Friday in its efforts to create a popular multi-billion dollar health care fund for emergency responders affected by toxic dust and debris in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.
The House leadership had suspended typical procedures—requiring a simple majority—on the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2009 in order to prevent GOP-offered amendments that they feared might compromise the votes of endangered Democrats.
Senior Democrats were concerned that Republicans might offer a motion to recommit—sending the bill back to committee with instructions to pay for it with funds from the president’s health care reforms.
The Democrats’ procedural tack meant the bill needed two-thirds majority to pass—a large coalition that senior Democrats surely knew was untenable.
Mired in political quicksand, with many of the caucus’s most senior members facing tough re-election battles, congressional Democrats have become increasingly aware that their many legislative victories are not enough to sour voters’ new taste for Republicans.
Another legislative win would have a negligible effect on what most political handicappers predict will be a Democratic-hostile election. What Democrats needed, and found in the bill’s failure, was the ideal opportunity for a thunderous rebuke of Republicans: An ideological win that would capture the interest and anger of the nation still lingering from Sept. 11.