House Panel Sets Stage For Reconciliation Maneuver
A key House panel approved a measure Thursday setting the stage for Senate Democrats to bypass likely Republican attempts to block health reform legislation, CBS News reports. The Ways and Means Committee's action sets in motion a process that would allow Senators to pass legislation with 51 votes, rather than the 60 required to block a filibuster under so-called reconciliation rules. Reconciliation allows Senators to move more quickly and avoid partisanship on urgent budgetary issues. The process does not, however, allow lawmakers to include laws that don't affect budget, like some consumer protection provisions in the current bills (Condon, 10/15).
The measure approved today by the House Ways and Means Committee "could be used as the vehicle for health legislation to pass in the Senate" by a simple majority, The Wall Street Journal reports. "Under the Constitution, revenue measures must originate in the House. If the Senate wanted to use this procedural tactic, the full House would first have to pass a bill providing for it." House Republicans protested, with one GOP committee member saying the decision to approve the measure is "another clear sign that Democrats have chosen to go it alone on health care" (Vaughan, 10/15).