A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics
Ed. by Disalvo, Daniel / Stonecash, Jeffrey
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On December 24, 2009, the United States Senate passed H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, by a vote of 60-39. Final passage was the culmination of over a month of behind-the-scenes negotiations and strategy sessions coordinated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). In this paper, I trace and evaluate Harry Reids coalition-building efforts on health care reform in the months leading up to the Christmas Eve vote using concepts drawn from the political science literature on legislative leadership. I conclude that Reid adopted precisely the transactional, "keep-the-chains-moving" leadership posture that matched both the institution he leads and his limited personal investment in the issue of health care prior to 2009. Efforts to paint Reid's performance on this issue as a failure of leadership ignore the extent to which contextual factors in the Senate were stacked against reform.