The Plum LineGreg Sargent's blog
Question: What makes the health care bill, presuming it will pass over unanimous GOP opposition, different from previous major reforms like the Civil Rights Act, Medicare, Social Security, and the Clean Air Act?
Answer: All those accomplishments passed the Senate with bipartisan support of some kind, while the health care bill, presuming it becomes law, will be the work of one political party. In fact, the heath care reform bill may be the first major reform with this distinction in the history of the Senate.
As I noted earlier today, Republicans are beginning to argue that this is the first major reform to lack bipartisan Senate support. GOPers, obviously, mean this as a criticism. But another way to say this is to point out that this may prove the first major reform to face unanimous partisan opposition from one party in the Senate.
Is this historical claim accurate? Here are the final Senate votes on some previous major reforms:
* The Social Security Act passed 77-6, with 12 not voting. Sixty Dems, 16 Republicans and one minor-party Senator voted for it.
* The Civil Rights Act passed 73-27, with 46 Democrats and 27 Republicans supporting it.
* Medicare passed 70-24, with six not voting. Fifty seven Democrats and 13 Republicans voted for it.
* The Clean Air Act of 1970 passed 73-0, so clearly it had bipartisan support (still looking for more detail on that vote).
This is obviously only a partial list. Our reporter Amanda Erickson is researching other landmark votes, and we’ll keep you posted on what we find.
For now, though, if the Senate bill passes along party lines, as expected, it may well be the first landmark reform entirely authored by one party, and entirely opposed by the other one. Dems can either run from this history, or, as I noted below, they can embrace it.