Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, tells Newsmax.TV that in his insider view of the healthcare reform juggernaut, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s odds of getting a bill passed are “slightly in her favor.”
“But I would not give up,” the lawmaker quickly qualifies. “We definitely have a chance to kill it, and we should turn out all our efforts to do so.”
King laments that the Republican victory in the Massachusetts’ Senate race -- seen as an informal referendum on Obamacare -- bled some of the energy away from the Obamacare opponents.
Editor's Note: See the interview with Rep. Steve King below
“So the intensity diminished in the opposition, and here we are today with a lot of people wishing they had turned up the pressure more to make sure there was a wooden stake driven into the heart of this bill,” he says.
“Nancy Pelosi is between 5 and 15 votes short,” King says. “It doesn’t surprise me that she would say she has the votes. She’s trying to create the façade, the expectation that the bill is going to pass. That makes things easier for them if they can do that. If she falls short, say 10 votes, it’s going to be difficult.
“This isn’t the type of thing where you can promise a committee chairmanship or a bridge… Every member of Congress is on record on this and that makes it really hard on her. Right now, I think the odds are slightly in her favor, but I would not give up… We definitely have a chance to kill it and we should turn out all our efforts to do so.”
If the bill is delayed until after Easter Holiday, however, that might impact the bill’s prospects – providing a window for demonstrations against Obamacare, King, the ranking member of the subcommittee on immigration, reveals. “There will be a return to raucous town hall meetings that preceded both the close vote in the House and the close vote in the Senate,” that thus far edged the bill along, he explains.
Meanwhile, the lawmaker suggests there is plenty of pressure being put on Democratic members of Congress to secure their votes. He looks to the near future to provide circumstantial evidence of some of the under-the-table deals with lawmakers. “When we see the next appropriations and how they were distributed among the districts, then maybe the press will see what kinds of deals were made…”
But isn’t such vote-buying a danger to the Constitutional process?
“Yes. It is a violation of the process,” King replies without hesitation, adding that such a practice is but part of what is in store for the historic legislation.
“We are in a position today that the Senate could not pass their own bill today. Meanwhile, the House is laboring under the impression that there will be a series of fixes to the Senate bill through the process of reconciliation…,” he explains.
“The Founding Fathers never envisioned that a bill could become the law of the land – a bill that couldn’t pass the Senate, that wouldn’t pass the House -- but would still become law under the promise that it would be amended at a later date.”
The Slaughter Solution
“When you add on to that the ‘Slaughter Rule’ that hangs out here, things really become interesting,” he warns.
The rule, also known as “deem and pass,” would declare that the House “deems” the Senate version of Obamacare to have been passed by the House. House members would still have to vote on whether to accept the rule -- but they would then be able to say they only voted for a rule, not for the bill itself.
“They could avoid having to vote that they were for the Senate version of the bill…,” King adds.
The bottom line is that the Democrats and the President have a huge stake in the healthcare reform move and could come out the big losers.
“There is not a single pundit in America that suggests that the Democrats can hold on to seats, much less gain seats…,” King says. “So the question becomes how many seats will be lost… If Nancy Pelosi right now has 40 votes to burn, I think they will lose seats in the range of 35 to 70. That’s my prediction…and a lot of it comes from the arrogance and the defiance that they have demonstrated toward the American people.”
Will 2010 be a repeat of 1994 – the year that the GOP gained control of Congress with the “Contract With America?”
“Some say it’s  even stronger in the current and direction of politics,” King suggests. “So, I think that between now and November, it’s up to Republicans to lay out an agenda so that the American people can vote for the direction in which we would turn this country… Right now we haven’t articulated a Republican agenda after a majority has been achieved. That has to be done…”
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