Last night Barney Frank released the following statement:
I have two reactions to the election in Massachusetts. One, I am disappointed. Two, I feel strongly that the Democratic majority in congress must respect the process and make no effort to bypass the electoral results. If Martha Coakley had won, I believe we could have worked out a reasonable compromise between the House and Senate health care bills. But since Scott Brown has won and the Republicans now have 41 votes in the senate, that approach is no longer appropriate. I am hopeful that some Republican senators will be willing to discuss a revised version of health care reform. Because I do not think that the country would be well served by the health care status quo. But our respect for democratic procedures must rule out any effort to pass a health care bill as if the Massachusetts election had not happened. Going forward, I hope there will be a serious effort to change the senate rule which means that 59 are not enough to pass major legislation, but those are the rules by which the health care bill was considered, and it would be wrong to change them in the middle of this process.
At first glance that could be a death blow, but maybe not. David Shuster reported this morning that Nancy Pelosi is looking at putting the Senate bill up for a vote in the House, but only with a commitment from Harry Reid. That commitment would be for what is called a “patch bill” and must be passed under reconciliation. The idea is to fix the Senate bill by another bill immediately following it and make it so the Republicans can’t filibuster it. Under that idea things like the public option come back into play.
I’m not very optimistic on this, but it does sound somewhat viable. Of course it depends on Pelosi being able to get people like Barney Frank to vote on the bill as-is and I’m not sure if that will happen or not.