This morning, the Senate invoked cloture on its scheme for government-run health care. Under Senate rules, there will now be 30 hours of debate divided equally between the two parties, and then there is a strong possibility that the Senate will pass the legislation.
For Majority Leader Harry Reid, getting to this point was no easy task. The typical horse trading that takes place on Capitol Hill was on overdrive lately as Leader Reid had to beg, borrow and deal to buy off each cynical Senator.
As much as the media and politicians on the Hill excoriated Governor Rod Blagojevich for selling President Obama’s old Senate seat, buying votes is a common occurrence in the nation’s capital.
As this piece from Politico demonstrates, what happens in Senate chambers typically borders on bribery.
- Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), who was once emphatic in his opposition to ObamaCare, got $45 million in federal funds for Medicaid expansion in Nebraska. Other states were not fortunate enough to have an undecided Senator provide their state with the perks of federal largesse.
- Independent/Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (VT), who was previously opposed to the legislation, was awarded $10 billion in new funding for community health centers.
- Senator Nelson (D-NE) and Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) garnered an excise tax carve-out for their states; all other states will be forced to pay the tax.
- Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) received perhaps the most persuasive legislative nugget, a $300 million federal gift to Louisiana for Medicaid expansion.
In an attempt to rationalize this border-line legislative bribery, Senator Reid opined, “You’ll find a number of states that are treated differently than other states. That’s what legislating is all about. It’s compromise.”
Buying off votes = compromise? Selling a Senate seat = felony?