Scroll for updates…late Friday night wheeling and dealing at Pelosi’s office…see Robert Costa’s reporting…Plus: Stupak’s stupefying negotiations…STUPAK CANCELS PRESSER…deal collapses…abortion proponents in revolt…
Here we go again. Time for another Let’s Make a Deal Watch in the Era of Hope of Change. As GOP Rep. Paul Ryan noted the other day at the House Budget Committee wreckonciliation shell hearing: “We are not governing here today, we are greasing the skids.”
First, a link refresher: Beltway Christmas: Cash for corruptocrats; the Demcare bribe list, Pt. I; Demcare bribe list, Pt. II; “A Reading Guide to the Senate Bill’s Backroom Deals”; and The Chicago Way: Judgeships for Demcare votes?
Now, here’s my rundown on the latest bribes and payoffs. GOP Sen. Tom Coburn is also on high alert. You keep watch, too, and send your additions:
*Nebraska’s Hospital Helper. Via Rowan Scarborough at the Washington Times:
The Obama administration has delivered another budget plum to Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson and the state of Nebraska, adding more than a half-billion dollars for a new veterans hospital in Omaha.
The move reverses a decision by Mr. Obama’s own Veterans Administration of a year ago, which called for repairing an existing hospital.
The Veterans Administration made the budget switch during internal deliberations in 2009 at a time when the White House was wooing the moderate Democrat to vote for President Obama’s health care overhaul bill.
Mr. Nelson was among the last of the Senate Democrats to sign on to the health bill, deciding to vote “yes” after securing special Medicaid payments for Nebraska in a deal known as the “Cornhusker Kickback.” Health care reform opponents have widely panned that deal.
At the time that deal was being made, Mr. Nelson was getting another boost from the VA as it formulated its next budget.
Jake Thompson, a spokesman for Mr. Nelson, rejected the idea the new hospital was awarded in exchange for the senator’s health care vote.
Deny, deny, deny.
*Tennessee’s Hospital Helper. Via the Tennessean:
Bye bye, Cornhusker Kickback. Hello, special treatment for Tennessee and North Dakota.
Democrats unveiling revisions Thursday to their health-care overhaul bill decided to kill the extra $100 million in Medicaid funds for Nebraska that has become a symbol of backdoor deal making. But the 153 pages of changes to the package include an additional $99 million in 2012 and 2013 for Tennessee hospitals that treat many poor people.
Retiring Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., has fought for the funds for years to bring the state’s aid up to par with the rest of the country, spokeswoman Emily Phelps said. She said their inclusion had nothing to do with his announcement Thursday that he will vote for the final health legislation after opposing an earlier version in November.
Deny, deny, deny.
Tom Bevan notes the irony of Gordon’s little deal and a NASA slot rumor.
*North Dakota’s Student Loan Loophole. With a sick stomach, Scott Johnson at Power Line reports:
Although the package nationalizes the student loan system, one bank — the state-owned Bank of North Dakota — would be allowed to continue making student loans. Such a deal for North Dakota’s Democratic congressional delegation facing massive opposition to Obamacare back home.
North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan has already announced his retirement rather than try to defend Obamacare to his constituents. Kent Conrad — North Dakota’s other Democratic senator — is employing the full Nelson, declining the bribe. Referring to “an overly heated partisan environment,” he asked the House to remove the buyoff from the legislation.
We await word from Rep. Earl Pomeroy, the state’s lone member of the House. Before the package was announced, Pomeroy was an enthusiastic advocate of the buyoff. “We want what’s taking place in North Dakota protected,” Pomeroy said. It is not clear whether Pomeroy shares Conrad’s second thoughts
And Congress will now expressly fund racial discrimination in higher education:
The new package also promises new aid for colleges serving minority students, using money the government is supposed to save by no longer paying banks to make student loans. Included are annual payments of $100 million for schools with large numbers of Hispanic students, the same amount for colleges with many black students, and millions more for schools with large numbers of native Americans and other minorities.
Newspapers running stories on these deals such as the Washington Post’s “Cornhusker Kickback gets the boot in health bill” really ought to provide nausea warnings and motion sickness bags.
*The La Raza Lollilop. Open-borders congressional reps made a show of protesting the phony immigration enforcement provisions in Demcare. But purported opponents of the bill led by Illinois Democrat Rep. Luis Guiterrez are falling in line. Just as the congressional Hispanic Caucus announced it support of Demcare, Obama announced his vow of support for their new shamnesty push.
All they needed was a cheap and easy promise from Obama. Chumps.
*Water Wheeling & Dealing. IBD editorializes today:
On Tuesday, the Department of the Interior announced it was increasing water allocations for the Central Valley of California, a region that depends on these water allocations for local agriculture and jobs. The timing adds to our suspicions.
According to the Interior announcement, “Typically (the Bureau of) Reclamation would release the March allocation update around March 22nd, but moved up the announcement at the urging of Senators (Diane) Feinstein and (Barbara) Boxer, and Congressmen (Jim) Costa and (Dennis) Cardoza.”
Blue Dog Democrats Costa, who represents California’s 20th Congressional District (Fresno), and Cardoza, who represents the 18th (Stockton to Modesto), are both listed as “undecided” in the upcoming vote on health care reform, whether it be on the Senate bill itself or the “deem and pass” resolution known as the Slaughter rule, after Rules Committee Chairman Louise Slaughter.
The rule subverts the Constitution by allowing the bill to pass without members actually having to vote on it. Interior’s announcement gives Costa and Cardoza something to assuage the wrath of angry constituents just in time for any vote. They chose what was behind door number one.
This isn’t the first time. To get them out of the “undecided” column in last December’s House vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership promised $500 million for a new University of California-Merced Medical School. Costa and Cardoza then voted “aye.”
Update: Well, I never thought I’d encourage you to go to Firedoglake, but there is some must-read reporting on the late-night negotiations over the abortion funding issue. And it isn’t good:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made a deal with Rep. Bart Stupak in order to secure his vote and that of other anti-choice Democrats for the health care bill, which is scheduled to be voted on this Sunday. According to a member of Congress who was briefed on the matter, Pelosi has agreed to let Stupak have a vote on his amendment either before or after the House votes to pass the Senate bill. It instructs the Senate to substitute the language in his amendment for the Senate language on abortion.
FDL has obtained a copy of the concurrent resolution (PDF1, PDF2, PDF3, PDF4), which includes cosponsors Marion Berry, Sanford Bishop, Joseph Cao, Kathy Dahlkemper, Steve Driehaus, Marcy Kaptur, Dan Lipinski, Alan Mollohan, and Nick Rahall. A second source confirms that with the exception of Cao, these are the members of Congress who are still on the fence. Cao is still considered a firm “no” vote.
The deal calls for Stupak to have a vote on his amendment either before or after the House votes to confirm the Senate bill on Sunday. Stupak is confident that he has the votes to pass the measure, and is happy to have the vote after the House passes the Senate bill. He believes that by using a “tie bar” approach, his amendment would be “tied” to the health care bill — which would require just 51 votes in the Senate.
Pro-choice members of the House, however, are demanding that the vote on the Concurrent Resolution happen before the House confirms the Senate bill. If in fact it passes, they plan to vote against confirming the Senate bill. They want Rep. Diana Degette to release the names of the 41 cosigners to her letter who pledged to vote against any bill that restricts a woman’s right to choose, and they are angry that the White House has been whipping to push through the Stupak deal.
Allahpundit tries to decipher the deal and wonders:
Exit question: Is this all just lefty spin being fed to Firedoglake by peeved pro-choicers? We’ll find out at Stupak’s presser tomorrow. 11 a.m.!
Meanwhile, The Corner’s Robert Costa has fresh reports on late-night arm-twisting at Pelosi’s office:
UPDATE: Tense times at the Capitol. Democrats are being called into the Speaker’s office at the eleventh hour for negotiations. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.) just arrived at 10:20 P.M. Regional Medicare reimbursement disparities appears to be the issue. Staffers are on their cell phones, telling their bosses to hustle in. Twice in the last 20 minutes, Speaker Pelosi has come into the lobby herself, looking for (maybe) arriving members. It’s now 10:30 P.M.
In the midnight hour, they cried more, more more…
Update: The Stupak deal has collapsed. Press conference canceled. Pelosi vows to separate votes on abortion.
Update: An executive order to mollify Stupak and company?