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Thursday, February 20, 2014

House again falls short on private option, but expected to pass on next vote

Posted By on Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 3:07 PM

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The House today fell short of the needed supermajority for the private option, with 72 voting Aye, but today's vote was essentially meaningless, for reasons explained here. The Senate passed the private option appropriation 27-8 this morning. 

Most believe that the needed 75 votes are there to pass the appropriation when the House takes it up again. In fact, Minority Leader Greg Leding said "the votes have been there all week" — it was just a matter of having the Senate vote and getting that bill in the House. That said, the delay will give opponents one last chance to try any and all Hail Mary plays they might have up their sleeves. 

The House will vote tomorrow morning at 10. One small issue is that many members are likely to be gone, since the House usually takes Fridays off, but members can vote in absentia by "pairing" votes. Both House Speaker Davy Carter and Gov. Mike Beebe said they had been told that 75 votes were likely there for passage now that the procedural timing wrinkles have been ironed out, but declined to make any predictions for tomorrow. Carter again stated that the House would vote every day until it passes, and expressed 100-percent confidence that the supermajority will be reached eventually. 

One other note on today: the Secretary of State's appropriation was pulled out and not voted on today. This is likely a symbolic point about precedent: if a minority of lawmakers are going to block the DHS budget over the private option, a minority of Democrats could block the Secretary of State's appropriation over Voter ID

UPDATE: Sounds like the count may be stuck on 74 this evening but proponents are hopeful they can get it over the hump by tomorrow morning. Unclear whether or not it will pass tomorrow, but at this point, most lawmakers on both sides of the private option debate believe it's all over but the shouting. If they're short Friday, the House will vote again on Tuesday. 

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