Your mission today.

I am told by my overlords at TPM and Balloon Juice that the House is coming around to a consensus whereby they will pass the Senate version of the health care reform bill, “once it’s clear that it will be changed through the filibuster-proof reconciliation process,” though TPM cautions: “Before they can move ahead, they need the Senate to make some real headway on their end of the bargain….”

“I thought we could get the votes in the House to pass the [Senate] bill if fixes to the Senate bill can be done,” House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) told reporters today.

“That would be a good option as far as I’m concerned,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), leader of the House progressives’ health care task force. “I could support it. Reconciliation. Majority rule.”

Apparently part of the problem is that the two halves of our legislature aren’t necessarily as warm and cozy as one would hope:

However, though the idea has begun to resonate with House members in theory, they’re not willing to hang their hopes on the Senate, an institution they increasingly distrust. They want something concrete first, before they’ll move ahead….

And of course, as Rep. John Larson (D-CT) told TPM, “a lot hangs on what the President says [in the State of the Union address].”

So here’s the drill! (And here’s some good advice about how to make these phone calls).

  1. Call your Senators! I called mine last week, leaving a message with one but never getting through to the other. I’ll call again today (until I get through…), and reference the information that I provided above. I think I’ll also ask to speak to their Health Legislative Assistants, per my success with the assistant in Rep. Danny Davis’s office the other day — but if all you feel up to is leaving a brief message, that’s really all that’s necessary. Capitol Switchboard number: 202-224-3121
  2. If you haven’t called your Representative yet to let him or her know that you want to see the Senate bill passed, please do so! This is especially important if he or she is a member of the Progressive caucus (members list here), and is, I believe, important even if he or she is a Republican. You won’t change GOP minds, but you might give them a dose of reality. (If you feel up to it, you might want to ask to speak to your Representative’s Health Legislative Assistant). Capitol Switchboard number: 202-224-3121
  3. What the heck, try the White House, too! I know that the State of the Union address is already written and President Obama already has it all but memorized, but it would still be a good idea to call the White House about this. It is not inconceivable that a word might be changed, or slightly different emphasis given, if they hear from a lot of citizens today. White House: 202-456-1111

Finally, it’s worth noting that the efforts being made at Balloon Juice and I don’t know how many other places appear to be having a real impact. Lots of people are reporting in the Balloon Juice comments that their Representatives’ staffers have been happy to hear from them, and have been very forthcoming about needing just this kind of support (that’s precisely the message I got from Danny Davis’s aide).

So please: Accept your mission!


UPDATE: I left a detailed message with a Burris staffer, but their Health Legislative Assistant was in a meeting. I did, however, get to speak with the appropriate aide in Durbin’s office, and she said very clearly that he still supports the Senate bill, he wants to see the House pass it, “but we’re waiting to see what happens tonight.” I said “The State of the Union address, right?” and she said yes. A couple of minutes later, I said something like “well, I can see that he would want to see how the leader of his party is planning on leading on this issue,” and she said “that is a major part of his thinking.”

So even though it may be pointless this late in the game, I’m going to keep trying to call the White House. (I say “keep trying,” because I’ve been trying and it’s damn hard to get through. But I’m going to try again).

Also, and not incidentally: She, like the assistant in Rep. Danny Davis’s office a couple of days ago, was lovely and gracious and open and helpful. I am coming to really love the staffers in my elected officials’ offices this week!

UPDATE II: I also finally got through to the White House, where I left a brief message. For whatever that’s worth…!

1 Comment

  1. Michael Unger

     /  January 27, 2010

    You have the tenacity that I lack.
    Can I have you call on my behalf? 😉

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