Democrats Set The Stage For Reconciliation
This process can be "just a war," in the words of a former Senate parliamentarian, Bloomberg reports. "When Republicans used a legislative maneuver called budget reconciliation in 1995 in a bid to wipe out the U.S. deficit and transfer some social programs to states, they ran into a wall of resistance." The parliamentarian struck 338 provisions that didn't concern the federal budget. The minority party has the power to raise objections that the parliamentarian must rule on, as well. Republicans say they will submit "dozens" (Litvan and Dodge, 3/4).
Once leaders are confident with the legislation, the process will move forward like this: "The House of Representatives is expected to try to approve the health care bill that the Senate approved on Dec. 24," McClatchy/Miami Herald reports. "If that happens, then a second bill would be offered. That bill would be the reconciliation piece; it would reconcile changes that the House wants with the Senate's original version" (Lightman, 3/4).
Republicans do not like this plan, The Christian Science Monitor reports. "If this bill is passed, in the next election every Republican candidate will be campaigning to repeal it," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "He's calling on us to ignore the wishes of the American people." Some House Democrats are cautious, too, because they worry the Senate would be unable to overcome objections to ensure that their changes are made (Chaddock, 3/3).
One piece of good news for Democratic leaders: Centrist Democratic senators appear more open to the reconciliation process than they have in the past, Roll Call reports in a related story. "With few exceptions, Democratic moderates interviewed Wednesday revealed little resistance to the idea of using controversial budget reconciliation rules to clear the final health care reform package and deliver it to the president's desk. Given their strong opposition to embracing this strategy when health care was being debated last year, their fresh openness could prove significant even if some moderates ultimately vote 'no'" (Pierce and Drucker, 3/4).
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