Chris Matthews Thursday said that if the Senate doesn't use reconciliation -- or what some are calling the "Nuclear Option" -- to pass healthcare reform after it once again clears the House, it will be the end of the Democratic Party.
Speaking with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC during the lunch recess of the President's heathcare summit, Matthews said:
Do you have to get a bill passed before you fix it through reconciliation? Probably yes. Which means Speaker Pelosi is going to have to get 217 votes with the agreement that right after that happens and the President signs the Senate bill passed by the House there is immediately going to be reconciliation in the Senate which rectifies all the problems they have with that bill.
Mitchell replied, "You're asking the House members to vote on something on the bet that the Senate will follow through."
"It's more than a bet," said Matthews. "Because if the Senate doesn't do it it's the end of the Democratic Party" (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, h/t Story Balloon):
ANDREA MITCHELL, HOST: The White House and the President, and we talked to Linda Douglass a little bit ago on the air saying there are areas of agreement. They want to say that the glass is half full because they're trying to appeal to the polling that shows that people want progress. They want some sort of bipartisanship. And then if it all falls apart, they can try to ram it through with 51 votes.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: It's not going to happen. It's not going to be a bipartisan deal. Everyone is looking ahead to November. The Democrats know they need a win. The Republicans know they need a loss here for the Democrats. It's all clear it's all transparent. Today's interesting. We'll learn a few things. But in the end, perhaps by 5:00 tonight, we're going to know that whatever Harry Reid says during the daylight hours, as we get to nightfall, he is going to admit he's going for an up or down vote in the Senate.
MITCHELL: Now, after the Massachusetts Senate defeat for the Democrats, the political wisdom was that the White House had to turn to jobs, that the economy -- jobs, jobs, jobs. Forget about healthcare. But, yet, this is the President, trying to say we've got to make one last ditch effort at it, because otherwise, the whole year has been wasted. And we paid this heavy political price. This is what Bill Clinton said to the House and Senate caucuses, Democratic caucuses. You've already taken the tough votes. You've already gotten yourself in trouble. So at least now go for it. Do something.
MATTHEWS: Well, they've gotten a bill passed in the House. They've gotten a bill passed in the Senate. And they were on the road to a conference agreement. They were going to get one. They would have to tilt to the left in the House to get around Stupak...
MITCHELL: On the abortion issue.
MATTHEWS: On the substantive issue, they'll need at least thirteen votes or so from the more liberal side to make up for the pro-choice, pro-Life people they're going to lose. And we know the politics. But it was doable. And I think there is going to be a lot of heavy lifting on the left. To me there's one big message. The Democratic Party now has to deliver for the President, left, right and center. The Democratic Party is going to have pass healthcare. That's the fact now after today. Because the Republican Party, this is not a partisan assessment. Look back for the last 50 years. With the odd exception of Richard Nixon, as he was facing the Watergate struggle, when he offered a employer mandate, a very dramatic program that required employers to give healthcare to their employees, which was dramatic -- as you and I know, Richard Nixon was one of those liberal presidents in history if you look at his domestic program. Not in any other case has the Republican Party stood up and said, "No, we want healthcare for everybody." So, it's only the Democrats who really believe in healthcare for the 30 or 40 million people uninsured right now. And that's why it's going to be very hard to reach agreement at the table today.
MITCHELL: You know the House and the conventional wisdom is this has to start in the House. They've got to...
MATTHEWS: It looks like that, because the parliamentarians are still meeting, they're still trying to get a clear ruling. And here for the people watching it's pretty simple. Do you have to get a bill passed before you fix it through reconciliation? Probably yes. Which means Speaker Pelosi is going to have to get 217 votes with the agreement that right after that happens and the President signs the Senate bill passed by the House there is immediately going to be reconciliation in the Senate which rectifies all the problems they have with that bill.
MITCHELL: You're asking the House members to vote on something on the bet that the Senate will follow through.
MATTHEWS: It's more than a bet. Because if the Senate doesn't do it it's the end of the Democratic Party. I think. They absolutely at that point are so much exposed they have to pass it in the Senate.
Strong words from Matthews.
Is he right, or just trying to be controversial?