Democrats Suddenly Rediscover Reconciliation

January 19th, 2010at 11:25am Posted by Eli

I actually sort of predicted this about a week ago, although this scenario is broader and less secretive:

If Brown beats Democrat Martha Coakley in the special election to fill the seat recently occupied by the late-Ted Kennedy, one alternative has the House passing the [healthcare reform] bill the Senate approved just before Christmas last year, with a promise to make additional changes through the upcoming budget process.


Under the scenario, the House would approve the Senate bill, sending it to the president’s desk for his signature. The White House and Senate negotiators would then have to promise to push further changes – such as those hashed out by negotiators¬†last week – through the reconciliation process, in which the majority only needs 51 votes.

The problem, though, with reconciliation is that it can only be used for things that have an impact on the federal budget. That would not relate to insurance reforms already in both bills and may limit the room for future negotiators.

Unless I’m very much mistaken, reconciliation also would not be able to strip out the anti-abortion Nelson amendment.¬† It would also be interesting to see whether the Democrats recalibrate the reconciliation bill to attract 51 votes instead of 60, or to at least track closely to the not-a-complete-corporate-giveaway House bill.

Of course, in my earlier post I suggested that any budget reconciliation talk would merely be an empty promise to trick reluctant Democrats into supporting the godawful Senate bill, and I still believe that’s the case.¬† Some unexpected “snag” or procedural maneuver by the Republicans would occur that would cause the reconciliation process to collapse, leaving the House Democrats (and us) with nothing.

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Healthcare,Obama,Politics

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