Senate postpones health care reform debate

Fri. July 24, 2009 12:00 AM by Jay Shaff

james clyburn, d (sc)

Is Obama's initiative in serious trouble?

Washington, DC - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced Thursday that the full senate will not take on health care reform legislation until after the August break.

Reminiscent of the Clinton Administration health care reform failure of 1993, it appears division among Democrats and criticism and lack of support by Republicans could shelf the reforms which President Obama has attempted to mandate. The rush to pass some sort of legislation, to which admittedly no one really knows the content, is also of concern to elected officials.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) urged members of his own party to forgo their August recess to work through the health care bills proposed. However, House Democrats are concerned that if they pass legislation before the break and the Senate fails to agree with major portions of it when they return in September, there will be damaging ammunition for opponents in the 2010 House races.

During his prime time news conference on Wednesday, Obama centered on the same theme of recent weeks. In his prepared statement, Obama centered a new phrase "health insurance reform."

Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau reporter Christi Parsons questioned Obama on the lack of transparency which was promised during his campaign, among other issues citing the absence of C-SPAN coverage of the health care debate in Congress. Only quick photo opportunities at the beginning of committee meetings have been provided.

In the health care debate, of particular interest to LGBT workers is equality on taxation and compensation. Currently, opposite sex married couples are offered a much higher allotment of tax free dollars through employer paid family benefit packages. As many LGBT workers are single, or in environments where their same-sex partners are not covered by benefits, the current tax and benefit rules are discriminatory to the community.

According to congressional staff sources, House majority leadership has ordered a closing of ranks to avoid the appearance of a split in the party which has been driven by Blue Dog Democrats recalcitrance. requested comment on the health reform issue from Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.), and House members Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), but none had responded at the time of posting.