Posted by: shannynmoore | March 5, 2010

Are We There Yet, Senator Begich?

Senator Mark Begich arrived back in Alaska Friday afternoon and I had a chance to ask him about Open Left reporting he was the 50th Senator for reconciliation.

“Health care reform has already passed the Senate by a 60 vote super majority. If the comprehensive health care bill passes the House, the ‘clean-up’ reconciliation could be passed through the Senate with an up or down vote.  I am waiting to see the wording of the reconciliation before voting.  I am well aware of the more than 100,000 Alaskans who are without health insurance and the rising costs for those who do.”

Reported earlier today, the Senator is open to using reconciliation for health reform.  From a letter to a constituent:

Thank you for contacting me regarding health care reform.

The reconciliation process is a budgetary tool used to address spending and deficit issues with a simple majority vote.  The budget reconciliation process has been used 22 times by both parties since 1980.  Action to clean up the health reform bill will further reduce the deficit.

Comprehensive health care reform has already passed the Senate with 60 votes.  If the House passes the Senate bill, the President could sign that version of comprehensive reform into law. I believe reconciliation would only be used as a tool to take out special backroom deals and to eliminate concerns raised by many Alaskans I’ve talked with.  The President has proposed narrow changes which I support, including completely closing the coverage gap for seniors’ prescription drugs, eliminating the special Nebraska funding provision, providing additional federal financing to all states to help pay for the expansion of Medicaid, and strengthening the Medicare waste, fraud, and abuse provisions.

Again, thank you for contacting me.  As the 111th Congress moves forward, please continue to be in touch with your thoughts and concerns.

Mark Begich
U.S. Senator

That makes 50 Senators publicly open to using reconciliation to finish health reform without any maybes.  There will be a reconciliation fix to the Senate health bill, as long as the House first passes one.


  1. I was so hoping that Sen. Begich would get on board. Thanks for the report.

  2. Moreover WILL he sign on for the public option????

    As of today……35 senators and… word from Begich about the P.O.

    See story below:

    Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) became the 35th senator to commit to voting for a public health insurance option if it comes to a vote on the floor under the rules of reconciliation. That leaves advocates of the option 15 votes short with no official whip action from either the White House or Senate leadership.

    Senate leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) have expressed support for the movement, but the White House has concluded, according to press secretary Robert Gibbs, that the public option doesn’t have “political support.”

    The steady climb in named supporters undermines the White House’s conclusion.

    While it refuses to push for the public option, the White House is attempting to muscle through several measures that have almost no political support within the Democratic caucus and, in fact, are vociferously opposed.

    The excise tax on benefits, which hits unions hard, has extremely little support yet the White House has managed to include it. The administration is now pushing to include health savings accounts, a GOP priority that amounts to the creation of significant tax shelters for the wealthy. Democrats have fought hard in the past to oppose them and weaken them but the White House now intends to give them to the GOP in exchange for nothing.

    “I find that ironic — something that we had fought to keep out, and indeed were successful, gets back in as part of reconciliation. And a public option that enjoys great support in the House and up to 30 senators gets left out. That’s something I just don’t understand,” Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) the co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told Salon Wednesday.

    Obama’s campaign arm, meanwhile, is arguing that “at this point, the public option is detrimental to our efforts,” according to Chris Bowers.

    The administration’s efforts notwithstanding, Cantwell said that if the parliamentarian determines that the public option can be voted on under the rules of reconciliation, which require only 50 votes, she’s on board.

    “If the parliamentarian says you can and it can all work, yes,” she told HuffPost when asked if she’d vote for it. “If it works, fine.”

    Progressive groups pushing for the public option are keeping a running tally here.

    “This is great news,” said Adam Green, a lead organizer with Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which has been pressuring senators to commit. “I think a lot of Americans are wondering: Why are senators like Ted Kaufman and Maria Cantwell showing more leadership and being more in touch with where the American people are than the White House? As Anthony Weiner asked yesterday, ‘What votes did President Obama win by retreating on the public option?

    • The Begich history shows he doesn’t show his cards before he plays them. It makes me crazy, but it beats the hell out of KNOWING how Lisa will vote regardless of what she says.

    • Thanks for this information Martha much appreciated.
      Shannyn thanks for being you.

  3. Hi..I am reading your page for a few days now is there any way to subscribe by email

  4. Senator Begich – Stay strong. I know you are a community minded person, and see the big picture. You are intelligent, with true common sense practicality, and insight. And whether all Alaskans know it or not – because they are sheeple – who don’t take the time to figure things out – You are working for our best interest. You don’t play games, you don’t posture, you are a real person. We are fortunate to have you in Washington D.C.

  5. On Friday 3/5 Bill Moyers’ Journal:
    the host made this comment to Wendell Potter;
    “BILL MOYERS: Excuse my growing cynicism at this age and stage, but could this be the briar patch strategy? In other words, they(the insurance companies) want to get people angry enough to– for Congress to pass that health care reform with the mandate that delivers millions of new customers to them under penalty of law. ”
    Moyers also interviewed Dr. Marcia Angell who feels the bill proposed by the administration and Congress will cement the roll of rapacious profiteers in Private Insurance.
    Obama, who is proving to be corporatist to his core has carried the water for Big Insurance and Big Pharma from the beginning of this health care debate with back room deals and by turning it over to “bipartisanship” and Max Baucus and his ilk.
    Dr. Angell makes the case very well Medicare for All, everyone in and no one out.
    That leaves Senator Begich still behind the curve but with time to take a true reform position.

    also see A bonanza for the robber barons:
    Thanks for all your great work Shannyn.

  6. Thanks, Shannyn..

  7. Shannyn,
    Did you see the story on Huffington Post, about Sarah admitting to crossing the border to use Canada’s Socialist Health Care?

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