John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Laws Made in Small Rooms

Posted on June 22, 2017

Legislative decisions, upon introduction, are made in small rooms.

I have been a proponent, in the past, of an open legislative process, where the majority works its will in open debate.

That was a pipe dream.

The legislative process has been ruined by legislators who care only about the next election, about campaign arms that demand mischievous amendments be introduced to embarrass lawmakers on both sides of the debate, and by a media that often misses the forest for the trees.

And that is why deals to move legislation are cut in small rooms.

It is in small rooms where the various interests are weighed, where industries are either protected or filleted, where compromises are hashed out.  The sausage is made in small rooms.

Mitch McConnell has been accused by the Democrats of perfidy for attempt to construct his deal to replace Obamacare in a small room.  The Democrats point to their process, where they had committee hearings and markups and a regular legislative process, according to the legend.

But that legend is not based on fact. The Democrats might have had all of those hearings and all of those markups, but at the end of the day, it was in a small room where the final deal was struck.

It was in a small room where the Democrats cuts deals with folks like Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson.  And worse, those deals were buttressed by one huge fib told by President Obama: You can keep your current health care plan if you want to.

We all know that Mr. Obama was being expedient when he made that unattainable promise.  For progressives, the ends often justify the means.

And here we are now, where Republicans have a choice. They can either try to fix the mess created by President Obama and the Democrats or they can let the mess engulf them.

Republicans campaigned on the promise to repeal and replace the ACA for six years.

They haven’t come up with a perfect plan to fulfill their campaign promises.

But now they own the issue because they are the ones in charge of the government.

Governing is hard. Harder than it initially seems. With governing, you have to make choices, tough choices that have a real impact on the lives of real Americans.

Governing is not about making promises. Governing is about making decisions.

And now Republicans have to decide to either move forward or get caught in the health care trap.

They could have put health care at the back of the to-do list.

They could have done a tax and infrastructure bill first and give more time to have the markets collapse and perhaps compel the Democrats to help out.

But there was no evidence that the Democrats have any interest in fixing the problem that they so artfully created.

And Republicans feel honor bound to stick to their promise to offer something better than Obamacare to a country that wants something better than Obamacare.

House Republicans passed a bill that President Trump first praised, and more recently called mean.

I don’t know if it is a mean bill, but it could some improvement.  At least that is what the polls tell me.

So, Senator McConnell, who undoubtedly would rather work on anything else other than health care, has put together a product that was produced in a small room.

I don’t know what is in the bill, but I assume that it is somewhat better than the House bill and a whole lot better than the status quo left behind by the Democrats and the Obama Administration.

I would hope that Senate Republicans go and sin bravely together and pass this bill, and then let the House dispose of it after the July 4th break.  I would recommend they do it before the August recess.

Health care reform is best looked at in the rear view mirror during the August recess.