Democrats Reflect On Importance Of Reconciliation In Health Bill Strategy
Reconciliation proved critical to health care reform passage, The New York Times reports: "Just a few months into his first term in 1993, President Bill Clinton went to Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, the protector of Senate rules, to ask permission to use a fast-track budget process known as reconciliation to enact a bold health care overhaul.' At that time, Clinton got neither consent nor the passage of a health care law. "Members of the Obama administration who were veterans of the Clinton health care collapse were not about to make that mistake twice" and pushed to make sure reconciliation could be used. "After a series of wild political twists and turns, that procedural emergency exit turned out to be essential to enacting the health care legislation after all. ... But it did not work out as anyone had foreseen. ... While Republicans insisted that Democrats unfairly stretched the limits of the process, Democrats dismiss that claim. Democrats note that they did not employ the tactic to pass the overarching measure, which won 60 Senate votes back in December, but only the changes that fell within the budget rules" (Hulse, 3/27).
The Hill: "The healthcare debate of 2009-2010 had everything a movie producer craves: conflict, twists and turns and of course, a climactic ending. For 15 months, the war of words consumed Capitol Hill. While the healthcare spin battle will continue into November's elections and beyond, Congress is now moving on to the next thing. Many exhausted aides and members are thankful, but others are almost wistful, noting the sudden void in their lives. ... Whether you thought the health bill was the worst thing ever concocted by man or the perfect remedy for the nation's biggest flaw, there was consensus that the health reform debate was entertaining and way over the top" (Cusack, 3/28).