View Full Version : 'reconciliation'

02-19-2010, 10:21 PM
Looks like some memebers of congress are going to try and use reconciliation to get health care passed with the public option. Here is what Hendrik Hertzberg of The New Yorker has to say about this:

"[T]hanks to the filibuster and to the great stone face of the monolithic Republican No, any new health-care bill that requires a standard floor vote in the Senate—indeed, any effort at health-care reform, however pared down, that could be interpreted as an accomplishment for Obama and his party—is out of the question. At this point, there is only one way to 'get it done,' and only the Democrats can do it. That way is (a) for the Democrats of the House to ratify the Senate’s already-passed bill and (b) for the Democrats of the Senate to ratify whatever elements of the defunct compromise can qualify for action via a well-established procedure—'reconciliation'—under which legislative provisions that have more than 'merely incidental' effects on government outlays or revenues cannot be filibustered. Reconciliation is arcane but effective, and thoroughly 'bipartisan': the Republicans used it to enact tax cuts for the comfortable, the heart of George W. Bush’s domestic program as surely as health-care reform is the heart of Barack Obama’s."

Maybe with a little bit of luck we can get this moving again!

Keith Wilson
02-20-2010, 09:20 AM
Absolutely. I said this after the MA election. Some very interesting things can happen during reconciliation, and they only take 50 votes in the Senate to pass.

John Smith
02-20-2010, 09:28 AM
Sound good, but:

According to Lawrence O'Donnel last night on Countdown, the public option will still have to pass some 60 voted obstacles. So, I am confused.

Also, let us not forget Feb. 25 is coming.

I fear many democrats took the wrong message from Brown's victory and are simply afraid to do anything. I'm hoping the 25th will change that.

I have for some time been trying to get the dems to but together a good bill with a strong public option (that the polls all show the people want) and simply DARE them to filibuster.

This may be in the cards after the 25th. Lots of potential there to change the dynamics.

High C
02-20-2010, 09:55 AM
....Some very interesting things can happen during reconciliation, and they only take 50 votes in the Senate to pass.

There's a lot more to it than that. From what I've read, neither of the current bills meets the strict requirements for reconciliation. Reconciliation can only be used on budget , tax, and debt limit bills. In order to meet these limitations, the bill would have to be stripped of much of its content, including what I believe are its only redeeming features, a degree of regulation on health insurance.

Aside from the technical limitations that could leave us with a "worst of all worlds" bill, the political risk to Democrats of using reconciliation is great, and they know it.

I'd be very surprised to see it done this way. If it is, the resulting law will be even worse than the bills currently on the table. But at least Democrats will have shot themselves in both feet and we won't have to hear much from them for a good while.

Keith Wilson
02-20-2010, 10:04 AM
How it's often worked in the past is that the "strict requirements for reconciliation" are whatever 50%+1 of Congress says they are. Lots of room for maneuver there. I expect the political cost for not doing anything would be greater. The restrictions on insurance companies are very popular, and necessary to make the rest of it work at all. Taking them out would not be a good idea.

High C
02-20-2010, 10:15 AM
How it's often worked in the past is that the "strict requirements for reconciliation" are whatever 50%+1 of Congress says they are. Lots of room for maneuver there...

Not from what I've read. The rules are very clear, and parliamentary objections can be raised to cause significant obstacle to passage of an illegal bill. These objections could later be used to have such a bill overturned by the courts.

Past instances of its use have been legit budget and tax bills. Health care reform isn't even in the ballpark.

02-20-2010, 03:15 PM
The reconciliation process can be used to fix some problems with the Senate bill, like the "Louisiana Purchase," the Nelson bribe, and the differences between the Senate and the House on how to pay for the bill. For adding a public option, they should go through the normal process.

There's been enough sausage making on display. They can pass the bill and fix the financial parts of it through reconciliation, or they can not pass a bill. Those are the primary options.

Ian McColgin
02-20-2010, 03:23 PM
The reconciliation process as I understand it will leave too much of the reform behind and, despite their brazen use of it in years past, will cause the Republicans to go even more toxic. Tactically and strategically I'd rather use the conference to build a real reform package with some public option and if some one wants to filibuster, make them start talking.

Even if it comes down to a pure party vote, at least it will be apparant to the citizens that the only parlimentary shenanigans was from the negativistas.

John Smith
02-20-2010, 07:12 PM
This is one of those areas that truly leaves me confused for lack of a good explanation. It's like ending the filibuster: one "expert" says Reid can just make them keep talking. Another says it requires 67 votes. Others say other things.

Who's correct?