With the news that the Murphy Bill is headed to “mark-up” and may finally at the end of two years get a shot at a committee vote and be sent to the floor I have heard from many people who felt defeated and said they thought this meant that the passage of the Murphy Bill was all but certain. As the article linked above makes clear it is no where close to that simple. The article tells the back story.
Chairman Upton had talked earlier in the summer about his desire for a truly bipartisan bill. It never happened. Rep Murphy accused the Democrats of being bigoted towards people who had serious mental illness and it basically became open warfare. The Democrats, in desperation penned the letter last week detailing their problems with the bill.
The comments of Rep. Upton are startling. He says the bill is not where he wants it to be at this point. He talks about looking over Murphys shoulder, of having his own meetings etc. The impression strongly is that he expects this bill if it passes at all to change in some ways. He realizes that bills that come out of the house purely as Republican partisanship don’t do well in the Senate (how many times have they repealed the ACA) and he wants more than a political gesture.
I get the impression that he expects a lot of pressure towards change at markup and talks about hoping people learn they have to work together. He wants more than a political gesture. It is just as important how this bill passes as whether or not it passes. The end game in all this is Barack Obama and a bill without democratic blessing is anything but a sure thing.
He also notes this is just the markup for the subcommittee and there is still a long way to go. Read the linked article. This process still has a long way to go.
The best thing that could be done is to contact Rep. Upton in support of the issues outlined in the Democratic letter. To me it looks like the best way to make a difference.
I decided to ask people I thought knew better than me what the reality was. I have heard from several people in a position to know and this is what I believe to be true. Much of it confirms what is said in the linked article.
The bill is now being scored. They are figuring out how much the various provisions of the bill cost. Provisions that cost money, particularly provisions that cost a lot of money, like the IMD exclusion are dead in all probability. The bill must be revenue neutral to make it. No one I have talked to see how the IMD exclusion (this is the provision that increases psychiatric hospitalization) can be anything other than a big ticket item. More than one person told me they thought the IMD exclusion would not be in the version of any Bill leaving the committee.
The Bill going into mark-up does not mean certain victory for Murphy at all. What it does mean is that defeat is not certain. This was much more of a last chance thing than a last barrier thing.
Most people believe “mark-up” will be a true war. The democrats will introduce amendments to change the bill, maybe even to essentially make it a different Bill. Every email and phone call between now and then is ammunition in their guns.
The Republicans have the most votes. Murphy should win this vote. If he can’t win this vote he may not be able to win any vote. But how he wins, how contested it is will, as explained above make a big difference in the long run. Encourage the Democrats to stand strong.
Everyone I talked to said they thought this needed to be a Senate friendly bill and right now it wasn’t. The provisions pointed out to me that would have the most trouble in the Senate was AOT anything, the Paimi provisions, and Hipaa.
Nobody I talked to thought it would pass as written. The process is far from over. It is very important that the Democrats on the committee stay strong and loud. Our voices can make a difference.
Please speak loudly and often. Get others to do the same. Voices not spoken will never be heard.
We can make a difference.