Democrats in the Senate say they are so committed to passing the House's version of health care reconciliation fixes verbatim, that they are willing to vote against even the most alluring and unobjectionable of amendments -- from legislation banning Viagra for sex offenders to language adding the long-elusive public option.
In what is the final act of the health care reform saga, the Senate on Tuesday began debating reconciliation fixes that the House of Representatives passed two days prior. The process includes a period of what could be unlimited amendments, during which it is widely expected that Republicans will try their best to get the legislation changed.
The idea is that by securing even a slight adjustment in the language, the Senate will have to send the bill back to the House of Representatives for reconsideration. Drawing out the process makes it more likely for it to be tripped up.
On Tuesday, the GOP put its strategy into action, with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okl.) introducing an amendment beyond agreeable. Titled "No Erectile Dysfunction Drugs To Sex Offenders" it would literally prohibit convicted child molesters, rapists, and sex offenders from getting erectile dysfunction medication from their health care providers.
While it will undoubtedly be difficult for Democrats to vote against the measure (one can conjure up the campaign ads already), the party plans to do just that.
"Democrats in the Senate are very unified that this is not going back to the House," Sen. Wyden (D-Ore.) told the Huffington Post on Tuesday, minutes before the Coburn amendment was introduced.
Just how unified? If Republicans, in a bit of legislative trickery, offer an amendment to the Senate reconciliation bill that allows for the establishment of a public option for insurance coverage, Democrats -- despite longing for the proposal for more than a year -- won't even take the bait.
"We would know it is a game," Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) told the Huffington Post. "We would vote against it. It is that simple."