Robert Gibbs Says White House Will Sign Health Care Reform Into Law "Shortly After" March 18 - Video 3/4/10
Here is video of White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs today saying the White House fully expects the House of Representatives to have passed the Senate Health Care Bill by March 18 - two weeks from today. President Obama is scheduled to leave on an overseas trip to Indonesia on March 18.
Gibbs almost let it slip that he fully expects the President to have signed the legislation into law by March 18. Chip Reid of CBS asked Gibbs if he "literally believed" the bill would be "signed into law by then" (within two weeks). Gibbs started to say, "I literally believe.....", and then caught himself and shifted to believing that it would be through the House by then. When pressed by Reid and ABC's Jake Tapper on whether he expects it to be passed by the House and then go through Reconciliation in the Senate by then, Gibbs was very evasive, saying only, "shortly thereafter."
I think there is a huge chance that Obama never intends to actually use "Reconciliation" to amend the Senate Bill once it is passed by the House. Once the House passes the Senate Bill, it could then be signed into law by President Obama. I have no way of knowing what Obama will actually wind up doing, but it could be he is using "Reconciliation" as the carrot to get Democrats in the House to pass the Senate Bill - which they don't like - on the promise it will be amended through "Reconciliation" in the Senate to more resemble the House Bill. But once the House Democrats pass the Senate Bill, Obama may drop them like a rock and just sign the bill, making it law.
Phil Kerpen has written the same sentiment at Fox News.com:
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether or not the Senate passes changes to its health care bill via reconciliation. That’s because the reconciliation process cannot even begin until after the House passes the Senate bill exactly as it passed the Senate on Christmas Eve. That means it must pass with the abortion language already rejected by Rep. Bart Stupak and others still intact. It also must pass with the outrageous pork barrel spending deals cut for Nebraska, Louisiana, Connecticut, and others. In other words, the bill must pass the House with everything in it that the American people have already made clear they hate.
As a practical matter, the Senate has no reason to take another politically risky vote unless that House has already proven it has the votes to pass the core vehicle, the Christmas Eve version of the Senate bill. -- At this point it’s far from clear that Nancy Pelosi can get the 216 votes she needs to get it passed. More importantly, as a procedural matter, the Senate almost certainly cannot even proceed to a reconciliation bill by making changes to the Christmas Eve bill if it hasn’t already been enacted into law. The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), which creates the official cost estimates of the tax changes in federal legislation, has said it cannot and will not provide cost estimates for a reconciliation health care bill unless the underlying bill has already been passed by the House. Without those scores, it’s impossible to determine if the reconciliation bill meets the requirements of the budget process.
North Dakota Democrat Kent Conrad, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, put it pretty bluntly: “I don't know of any way, I don't know of any way where you can have a reconciliation bill pass before the bill that it is meant to reconcile passes. I don't know how you would deal with the scoring. I don't know how I could look you in the eye and say this package reduces the deficit. It's kind of got the cart before the horse.”
So the House has to go first. And the House vote is all that matters. If the Senate bill passes the House, Obama will sign it and it will be the law of the land. Maybe the Senate will make some tweaks to it via reconciliation. Maybe they won’t. Ultimately it won’t matter, because either way vast new taxes will be imposed to support over 100 new regulatory entities that will give Washington the power to micromanage every aspect of our health care. Either way we’ll all be forced -- under threat of incarceration -- to buy expensive health insurance from favored private insurance companies, whether we want it or not. In other words, if the House passes the Christmas Eve Senate bill, the game is up and the American people lose. If, on the other hand, the House rejects the original Senate bill, it’s all over. . . . MORE
What Robert Gibbs said, and did not say, seems to reveal that is exactly what the White House is planning to do.