Today at 2pm the House Rules Committee will meet to consider the rule for H.R. 3962 , the Affordable Health Care for America Act. As of this morning 104 amendments had been filed with the Rules Committee for consideration. Republican’s have filed 87 amendments and Democrats have filed 17. The debate in the Rules Committee and a final vote could continue well into this evening.
The rule being debated today will not only cover HR 3962 but will also apply to HR 3961, the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act, also known as the Doc Fix. This is a procedural gimmick that allows the costly Doc Fix bill to be combined with H.R. 3962 after the bill passes the House. This allows Congressional Leaders to avoid a stand alone vote on Doc Fix in the Senate. A few weeks ago, a $247 billion dollar Doc Fix bill failed in the Senate with 13 Democrats opposing ending debate on the bill.
Also included in the amendments filed with the Rules Committee is an Amendment by Congressman Brad Ellsworth (D-IN) in an attempt to provide a compromise so that no federal funding would be allowed for abortion services and all Americans would have access to at least one plan that does not cover abortions. This language is not strong enough for many pro-life groups, yet it may allow for enough of the democrats in the House Pro-Life Caucus to support the compromise. If a compromise is reached that allows Pelosi to satisfy pro-life Democrats it will be included in the Rule and not receive additional floor debate or a stand alone vote by Members not on the Rules Committee.
The House will convene at 9am tomorrow morning and begin debate on the rule. It is anticipated that it will be a closed rule, meaning no additional amendments can be offered on the House floor. If the rule passes then Members will immediately begin 3 hours of debate on the health care bill.
Both Leader Hoyer and Speaker Pelosi have indicated that a vote on the “doc fix” will not occur before Veterans Day.