Health Care Bill May Move Forward Bypassing Republican Filibuster Through Reconciliation Process

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Byrd and Pelosi

(Best Syndication News) Republicans are angry because Democrats may use the reconciliation process to bypass a possible filibuster in the Senate. A budget reconciliation may allow the measure to pass with a simple majority, even without any Republican votes.

First introduced in 1974, reconciliation is a process intended to allow consideration of a contentious budget bill without the threat of filibuster. It limits debate in the Senate preventing a Senator or group of Senators from halting the process through an extended debate on the proposal. A filibuster could go on for days.

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The House of Representatives also has a reconciliation process, but since house rules limit debate already it is not as important. A reconciliation (or budget reconciliation) forces one or more committees to submit legislation changing in order to bring spending, revenues, or the debt-limit into conformity with the budget resolution.

Although Republicans have used reconciliation more frequently than Democrats, members of the GOP complain that it should not be used for such a complex bill. But even Fox News is saying that Obama will win with health care. Ellen Ratner predicts that Democrats will lose seats in the midterm because of the vote but “the games played by the health insurance industry will make many reticent Americans come over to the Obama side.”

Senator Robert Byrd, who helped write the Senate’s reconciliation rules says it is okay for Democrats to use the procedure with the health care bill. “A bill structured to reduce deficits by, for example, finding savings in Medicare or lowering health care costs, may be consistent with the Budget Act, and appropriately considered under reconciliation, the senator said in a letter to the Daily News.

Complicating the process is the abortion issue. Even if the budget reconciliation goes through and there is a vote, some Democrats may vote “no” if the bill includes federally funded abortions.

When asked about the abortion issue on Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said:

“Just for those of you, we are talking about a process where we use the simple majority to pass the legislation, so without any fancy names a simple majority. That’s a budget resolution. Under the budget resolution, you can only deal with issues that are central to the budget. None of these policy issues are, so they won’t be dealt with in the budget. Neither of these issues is central to the bill. This is not an immigration bill. It is not an abortion bill. It’s a bill about affordable health care for all Americans and that is the momentum that will take us to a majority vote.”

By: Tom Madison

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