The truce during the mourning for Senator Edward M. Kennedy is a memory, Congress returns to work in a week, and the calendar has turned to September.
So it's time to rejoin the battle over the health care overhaul.
Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, the top Republican on the Budget Committee, is warning that he has lots of objections ready if Democrats try to push a health care bill through the Senate with a simple majority.
Democrats might need to resort to the procedural maneuver, known as reconciliation, because with Kennedy's seat vacant, they control 59 votes -- one shy of what is needed to overcome potential filibusters.
Gregg told The Hill newspaper in an article published online today that Republicans could file "hundreds" of points of order objections, each one requiring 60 votes to overcome.
"We are very much engaged in taking a hard look at our rights under reconciliation," Gregg told The HiIl. "It would be very contentious."
The Republican National Committee this morning unveiled a new TV ad that promotes its "seniors' bill of rights" for any health care changes -- aiming squarely at a constituency worried what reform would bring and at a voting bloc least supportive of President Obama.
“Let’s agree in both parties that Congress should only consider health reform proposals that protect senior citizens,” RNC Chairman Michael Steele says in the ad. "For starters, no cuts to Medicare to pay for another program. Zero.
"Make it illegal to ration health care based on age,” he continues. "Prevent any government role in end-of-life care. And stop bureaucrats from getting between seniors and their doctors. A few things we should all agree on. The Seniors’ Bill of Rights. Stand with us and stand with senior citizens. After all, they’ve earned it.”
Democrats, however, point out that Steele has seemingly contradicted himself in recent days over whether he supports savings (or cuts, according to critics) in Medicare -- the government health program for seniors -- to help bring health spending under control.
Democrats also note that the AARP declared that “nothing in the bills that have been proposed would bring about the scenarios the RNC is concerned about.”
"Michael Steele and the Republicans are unbelievable," Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse said in a statement today responding to the RNC ad. "After failing to stop the President on the Recovery Act, the budget, equal pay for women and children's health care, Republicans have decided that they have no other choice when it comes to blocking health insurance reform than to lie to the American people and try to scare seniors - all in their admitted effort to 'break' the President on this issue and 'kill' reform for political gain.
"The RNC's 'Senior's Bill Of Rights' is nothing more than a scare tactic built on a foundation of lies about the effort to reform health insurance. Which begs the question, why can't Republicans debate health insurance reform on the merits instead of making stuff up out of whole cloth? Because they know the crux of what President Obama has proposed -- lowering costs, preserving choice, expanding access and reversing decades of unfair insurance industry practices -- is popular with the American people and they don't stand a chance of blocking reform if they deal with the issue honestly."
Democrats -- in the form of President Obama's grassroots group Organizing for America -- are continuing their "Health Insurance Reform Now: Let’s Get it Done!" bus tour today in Columbus, Ohio, and Wednesday in Pittsburgh. The events, in part, are designed to hammer home the message of Obama's eight health "guarantees" for Americans who already have health insurance: "1) no discrimination for pre-existing conditions, 2) no exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles, or co-pays, 3) no cost-sharing for preventive care, 4) no dropping of coverage for the seriously ill, 5) no gender discrimination, 6) no annual or lifetime caps on coverage, 7) extended coverage for young adults, and 8) guaranteed insurance renewal."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.