House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has set the legislative throttle at full-speed-ahead as she plans to bring health care reform to a floor vote by the August recess, a move that could inflame tensions in the party and imperil the bill's passage since fiscally conservative Democrats say they're still not satisfied.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday announced that the Senate would wait until after recess to bring the bill to a vote, and President Obama said it was "OK" to miss his deadline so long as lawmakers are working in earnest to reach a compromise.
Reid's announcement led some members of the House to wonder why Pelosi feels it's necessary to hold to a deadline that's already been broken.
It's hard to imagine what the Speaker thinks this will accomplish. Even if she's successful in twisting arms, Health care will be nowhere near passing even if it got out of the House. A bill hasn't even been introduced in the Senate.
Then, all those that got their arms twisted in the House will face angry voters when they get back home. On top of it, the Speaker will appear to be drunk on power and out of control. She'll look like she's more concerned with getting her agenda through than respecting centuries of legislative protocol.
All of this would be of minor consequence if she had some tangible legislative accomplishment to show for it. She won't. She'll likely tout the passage of sweeping health care back home. In San Francisco, they might even cheer her. In the rest of the country, the current legislation is unpopular and getting more unpopular by the minute. Furthermore, passing a bill out of the House is not much of an accomplishment.
Then, there's the chance that she'll twist arms and not twist them hard enough. That's very similar to a no confidence vote in a parliament. The leader can't proclaim to have the vote, bring it to the floor, and then have that vote fail and keep her power.
In fact the idea is so ludicrous it seems impossible that she'll follow through. So, why even put out a statement that she's thinking about it? If she changes her mind, her credibility looks weak. None of what is being reported is rooted in either good politics or good policy. It all is rooted in out of control hubris.