Dems May Split Health Plan Into 2 Bills to Skirt GOP

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2009 8:55 PM CDT
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. smiles on Capitol Hill in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – Here's the latest health care strategy gaining traction among Democrats: Pass two bills instead of one. The idea, as laid out by the Wall Street Journal, goes like this: Democrats would tuck most of the legislation's more controversial spending measures—maybe even a public insurance option—into a first bill they can jam through the Senate in a filibuster-proof tactic known as a budget reconciliation measure.

Other parts of the legislation, such as extending insurance to all Americans, would go into the second bill. This one should be able to get  through the Senate in a normal vote because some Republicans are already on board with its contents. The split-bill scenario is in the mix because the chances of a bipartisan bill are dwindling, and insiders tell the Journal the chances of it happening are 60%. Harry Reid will have the final say, and a spokesman warned that "patience is not unlimited" with Republicans.