Senators moving towards reconciliation to finish health reform [UPDATED]
Every passing day brings more Senators saying their open to using the budget reconciliation process for finishing health reform. So far, nobody has compiled these statements into a comprehensive list, so here they are.
I believe we ought to pass comprehensive health care reform and we ought to do it now and there is a way to do it. I provided the 60th vote. We passed it in the Senate. Let the House accept it, simultaneously with a bill to make certain changes through reconciliation and 50 votes. There will be no disagreement about taking away the giveaway to Nebraska and Louisiana and the other inappropriate measures but let’s move ahead and let’s move ahead now.
The best way for that to happen, and as far as I can see – the only way for that to happen – is what I’m calling ‘pledge and pass. If we in the Senate pledge to fix those elements through reconciliation – a budget process that requires only 51 votes, the House of Representatives should pass the Senate Bill.
Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) walked back his earlier critisisms of the process and is open to reconciliation:
I’ve been asked about whether I’d support using the process known as reconciliation now. So, I want to make it clear: If I support a bill, then I will vote for it regardless of whether it takes 50 votes to pass or 60 votes to pass. My position doesn’t change just because the House or Senate decides to change the process.
Senator Baucus (D-MT), who chairs the crucial Senate Finance Committee, says it’s the only way:
Approving the Senate bill through the procedure, known as reconciliation, “is the only solution,” Baucus said, adding the Senate “was close” in getting enough votes to pass it.
Senator Conrad (D-ND), who chairs the other crucial commmittee in the process, the Budget Committee, says he would be open to fixes:
If the House passed the Senate bill, could reconciliation, that process, be used to fix things that might be improved upon? Yes. Would I support it? I can’t know that without knowing what would be included in the package.
Senator Bingaman (D-NM) said in a recorded call with reporters that reconciliation is an option (click for audio):
10:01 – Bingaman says that using the reconciliation process is an option for getting portions of the health care reform bill passed in the Senate.
Senator Carper (D-DE) has been reaching out to moderates in the House to convince them that the reconciliation "sidecar" option is the way to go:
Sen. Tom Carper, a centrist Democrat from Delaware who played an active role in Senate healthcare talks, said he would reach out to House Democratic centrists to persuade them to vote for the Senate-passed bill along with a sidecar.
“We’ve had some conversations with some of them already,” he said.
Senator Durbin (D-IL), the Senate Majority Whip, said reconciliation is an option:
We could go to something called ‘reconciliation’, which is in the weeds procedurally, but would allow us to modify that health care bill by a different process that doesn’t require 60 votes, only a majority. So that is one possibility there.
Senator Pryor (D-AR) said he’s open to it:
According to the Arkansas News, Pryor said reconciliation was not his first choice but "he was not necessarily opposed to the idea."
Someone familiar with Senator Feingold (D-WI) has said the Senator is open to the idea:
I spoke to someone from Feingold’s campaign about his position on reconciliation in light of the Massachusetts special election. She informed me that while Sen. Feingold is no fan of reconciliation, now that it’s reconciliation or nothing (apparently), he would be willing to support reconciliation if that’s what it took to get a good bill passed. It wasn’t the slightest bit equivocal or hedgy; it was a straight "yes". So that’s a bit of good news. Hopefully the House can get their act together.
Senator Kerry (D-MA) says reconciliation is his preferred route to passing health reform:
Senator John Kerry said today his preferred route to completing health care reform is for the House to pass the Senate bill, and for the Senate to make it more digestible to the House by approving fixes through the reconciliation process, which allows legislation to pass the Senate by a simple majority instead of 60 votes.
Senator Klobachar (D-MN) is also open to the move:
Whether it’s going to be [reconciliation] or whether it’s going to be taking some of the main initiatives for the self-employed and small business to allow them to get better rates of insurance, and insurance reforms and prevention, and the Medicare cost reforms — which, some of us can’t even imagine voting for health care without having some Medicare cost reform — the bill will move forward, and I think something will get done….
Senator Sanders (I-VT) definitely supports it:
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said he favors using a parliamentary maneuver known as reconciliation to get health care reform passed. Such a move would require only support of a simple majority of the Senate, not the 60 needed to prevent a filibuster threatened by Republicans.
"I support the reconciliation process or any other way we can get the votes we need to go forward," Sanders said in a statement.
Senator Menendez (D-NJ) supports it as well:
I’m not sure how we get where we want to be if reconciliation is not the process.
More statements will no doubt come in as the process moves forward, but for now there is building support for finishing health care reform using the reconciliation process. Of course, we need to encourage them not just to finish reform, but to finish it right by making health care affordable to all and holding the insurance companies accountable.
Brown said didn’t yet know for sure whether Reid would commit to the reconciliation fix approach, but added that there’s a widespread sense in the caucus that this is probably the only workable route forward.
“I can’t imagine another scenario,” Brown said. “We can’t start anew, and we can’t do piecemeal.”
(also posted at the NOW! blog)
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