Republicans fight on to kill health bill

FACED with the threat of round- the-clock sessions on the health care bill, hardline Senate Republicans last night indicated they would drop their delaying tactics which have prevented a single vote on the issue, and present a flood of amendments which they claim will kill off the measure anyway.

As speeches droned on in a half- deserted chamber, the prospect of real reform this session was shrivelling. The best chance of resuscitating what was to have been the centrepiece of President Bill Clinton's political programme now lies in yet another revamp of the measure, to win over an emerging group of Democrat and Republican moderates. Even so, the chances of success look slim.

A summer recess that should have started last weekend will now be delayed for a fortnight at least, and tempers are wearing thin. For most of yesterday, Republicans continued their stalling, with long floor speeches designed to waste as much time as possible. The one gleam of hope was the frantic backstage efforts to meld the watered down bill of Senate Majority leader George Mitchell now under debate, with even less ambitious proposals from the new bipartisan 'Mainstream' bloc of centrists from both parties. But one 'Mainstream' Republican said the group was still 'light years' from the Mitchell draft.

Even among themselves, Democrats are deeply divided. If Mr Mitchell makes further concessions, he risks losing the backing of liberals who insist on broad- based reform and a clear timetable for universal coverage. Further confusing matters are separate plans for a minimalist version of the bill, confined to changes in insurance that would lower rates and make it harder for insurers to refuse coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions.

Part of the problem lies in the laxer rules of the Senate, which require a 60-40 majority to push through a guillotine motion to cut off debate. Alas for Mr Mitchell, there are only 56 Democratic Senators. Republicans, always the more disciplined party, can mount filibusters to veto any controversial legislation they choose.

Anxious to avoid blame for health reform's demise, Republicans piously maintain that Healthcare is too important and complex an issue to rush. Far better to wait until next session - by which time, mid-term elections may have given Republicans outright control of the Senate. But on Monday evening, even the long- suffering Mr Mitchell's patience ran out. The Senate had the choice of starting to vote last night, or remaining in continuous session indefinitely.

At the other end of Capitol Hill, the adminstration was desperately seeking to salvage its other main legislative goal, the crime bill which the House torpedoed last Thursday. Its arithmetic is less complicated than health care, but its politics, perhaps more so.

After the 225-210 vote defeat, in which 58 Democrats voted against him, the President must persuade at least eight Congressmen to change their minds. Last night White House officials were confident they could pull it off, as Mr Clinton personally lobbied members of the House black caucus, and Chief of Staff Leon Panetta went to Capitol Hill to tackle other Democratic waverers.

The White House hopes to hold a fresh vote tomorrow and after days of emotional invective against Republicans and the National Rifle Association, Mr Clinton signalled a readiness to compromise on the dollars 33bn ( pounds 22bn) measure. But he insists the final bill must include the ban on 19 types of assault weapons which is anathema to the NRA, the 'three strikes and you're out' provision for criminals, and money for 100,000 more police. But he may have to abandon some of the socially-orientated provisions of the bill - such as the 'midnight basketball' funding which hardline Republicans love to mock.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform