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Tom Harkin: Senate Democrats Will Use Reconciliation, But House Must First Pass Our Bill Unchanged

Politico is reporting that Tom Harkin (D-IA) said Senate Democrats have decided to use reconciliation to finish health care reform, but there is a big caveat for House Democrats.

Sen. Tom Harkin told POLITICO that Senate Democratic leaders have decided to go the reconciliation route. The House, he said, will first pass the Senate bill after Senate leaders demonstrate to House leaders that they have the votes to pass reconciliation in the Senate.

Harkin is saying that House Democrats must first pass the current comprehensive Senate health care bill unchanged with just the promise that Senate Democrats will vote for a series of fixes later.

If House Democrats do vote for the Senate health care bill, they better be prepared to own the Senate bill unchanged. There are many stumbling blocks that could stop a reconciliation bill, and, with Obama already delivered a “win” on health care, it is not hard to imagine all the energy getting sucked out of the reconciliation push. That is especially a problem given the fact that the reconciliation sidecar is not expected to contain any popular elements like a public option, Medicare buy-in, or drug re-importation that could create grassroots energy and support for the reconciliation bill.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at