By Mark Memmott

As President Barack Obama prepares for an 11:15 a.m. ET ceremony at which he'll sign into law the health care overhaul legislation that passed the House on Sunday, the political battle over the next step in the process -- a Senate vote on the "fixes" to the legislation that made its passage politically feasible -- looms.

On Morning Edition, Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, laid out the objections his party has to the legislation the Senate will begin debating today. As he told guest host Linda Wertheimer:

-- "I'm sure we'll offer amendments" to take out "special deals" (in the Republicans' view) that were made to win lawmakers' votes.

-- "We'll offer amendments to try to improve on things like eliminating the individual mandate."

-- Republicans will talk about the "special rules" that will limit debate on the measure to 20 hours and eliminate all debate on the amendments that are proposed.

-- The GOP will also repeat earlier objections to the way the health care legislation was put together, saying that at "the 24th hour, the Democratic Party ... went into a back room. No Republicans were allowed in the room. ... We weren't allowed to be part of the process."

Here is the conversation Linda had with the Senator:

Later, their discussion will also be posted here.

As The Hill reports, the GOP will also raise points of procedure as the Senate debate gets going:

"Senate parliamentarian Alan Frumin ruled against Senate Republicans Monday night, setting aside the first of many expected procedural objections from the GOP. The parliamentarian ruled that changes to a proposed excise tax on high-cost plans would not violate the 1974 Budget Act by changing contributions to the Social Security trust fund."

An analysis in this morning's New York Times, meanwhile, makes the case that:

"In political terms, Republicans face strong crosscurrents. Polls suggest that a sizable part of the nation is unenthusiastic about the bill or opposed to it. ...
"But at the same time, many provisions of the bill that go into effect this year -- like curbs on insurance companies denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, or the expansion of prescription drug coverage for the elderly -- are broadly popular with the public. ... And in a week when Democrats are celebrating the passage of a historic piece of legislation, Republicans find themselves again being portrayed as the party of no."

With Democrats in control of 59 Senate seats, and because the fixes can't be filibustered under the rules that will be used, passage of the legislation seems quite likely.

There are still other ways for critics to challenge the health care overhaul, however. As NPR's Nina Totenberg explained on Morning Edition, it's going to be attacked in the courts as being unconstitutional:

categories: Government, Health, Obama Administration, Politics

7:15 - March 23, 2010