Zeke Emanuel on MSNBC: Lack of 'Severability' In ObamaCare Just An 'Oversight'; Historical Record Shows Otherwise

March 29th, 2012 3:41 PM

On today's edition of MSNBC's Now with Alex Wagner, ObamaCare apologist and Rahm Emanuel sibling Zeke Emanuel insisted that the lack of a "severability clause" in the health care overhaul legislation was simply an "oversight, not an intention." Neither host Alex Wagner nor any panelist interjected to correct the record.

In fact, severability was not inserted into the ObamaCare legislation as part of a legislative strategy by the Democrats who shepherded it through Congress. Boston Globe's Noah Bierman explained as much in the March 29 paper (emphases mine):

The Senate narrowly approved its first version of the health bill, which did not include the clause, in December 2009, before Brown was elected. There is disagreement over why. One official who was close to the 2009 process said it was an oversight. Another said it was a deliberate political strategy, intended to defang Republican claims that there was concern about the law’s constitutionality.

The House version, which passed separately, included the clause. The sides initially intended to bring a new bill before the Senate, with a severability clause included, according to two former Senate aides involved in the process and a House official with knowledge of the process.

But after Brown’s election, Democratic leaders switched strategies, deciding to employ a process known as “reconciliation’’ that required them to use the Senate’s initial bill, with only limited changes. That process avoided a filibuster, which would have killed the bill.

“After Jan. 19, it became clear there was only one strategy to move forward on health reform,’’ John McDonough, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health who worked on the Senate health committee from 2008 through 2010. “The Democrats, because of Scott Brown, lost 60 votes.’’

The House official with knowledge of process, who requested anonymity to discuss strategy, agreed Brown’s election was decisive in persuading Democratic leaders to shift strategies.

Jim Manley, a former senior communications adviser for majority leader Harry Reid and now a Democratic strategist, agreed that Brown’s election was a factor in that decision, but not the sole factor.

There was also concern before Brown’s election that other senators who had initially supported the bill would defect, leaving the Senate short of the 60 votes necessary to introduce a new bill, he said.

“We had overwhelming opposition,’’ Manley said. “He was just the icing on the cake.’’