CommunityFDL Main Blog

Will Republicans Really Stand in Front of the Reconciliation Sidecar?

(photo: Jeff McCrory)

The President will sign the health care legislation on Tuesday, allowing the Senate to finish their work on the set of fixes in the reconciliation bill. Harry Reid has promised to begin work on the bill at that time.

The key question here is whether or not Republicans will bother to gum up the works and obstruct the reconciliation bill, when health care legislation will already be the law of the land. All they will be obstructing is the “special deals” like the Nebraska Medicaid expansion, along with preserving a tax on the middle class instead of delaying it. There are other parts to the bill, of course, including student loan reform. Maybe that’s the reason they’ll obstruct. Or maybe just out of muscle memory. Or maybe because they want to stop any thought of reconciliation getting used again by making it arduous.

At any rate, Republicans have signaled a willingness to block the reconciliation bill. Actually, the entire bill. But this doesn’t look like much of a threat.

But my sense is that there’s some confusion about what happens if the parliamentarian rules against the Democrats on this or that provision. So let me be clear on this: Reconciliation isn’t all or nothing. The parliamentarian isn’t ruling whether you can do a reconciliation rider. He’s ruling over what you can do with it. An adverse ruling is more annoying for the Democrats than it is disastrous.

If the parliamentarian strikes a provision or two, Senate Democrats will either pass the reconciliation act with that provision deleted from the package or they’ll rewrite the package to try and achieve the same thing in a way that survives parliamentary challenge. Either way, if the package Senate Democrats pass is changed from the package the House considered, then it will have to go back to the House to be passed again. But since House Democrats clearly have the votes to pass reconciliation fixes, that shouldn’t be much of a problem.

I don’t really think that anyone wants to go back to the House again, given the heavy lift already done the first time around. But Ezra is correct. Knocking out a line or two delays the inevitable. As long as 50 votes are available to pass the reconciliation bill, it will become law. And Senate leaders have made full assurances that they have the votes – I don’t even think there’s a need for a public whip count.

It will be worth seeing if Democrats can limit the length of the reconciliation debate in the Senate. Only 20 hours of actual debate are allowed for a reconciliation bill. But anyone can offer up amendments, and they get voted on without debate at a “vote-a-rama” at the end. Democrats think they have a way to get the parliamentarian to call an over-abundance of amendments dilatory. If this works, there’s no reason not to use reconciliation for other on-budget purposes by the end of this year for fiscal year 2011. That 50-vote process would be available.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Will Republicans Really Stand In Front of the Reconciliation Sidecar

The President will sign the health care legislation on Tuesday, allowing the Senate to finish their work on the set of fixes in the reconciliation bill. Harry Reid has promised to begin work on the bill at that time.

The key question here is whether or not Republicans will bother to gum up the works and obstruct the reconciliation bill, when health care legislation will already be the law of the land. All they will be obstructing is the “special deals” like the Nebraska Medicaid expansion, along with preserving a tax on the middle class instead of delaying it. There are other parts to the bill, of course, including student loan reform. Maybe that’s the reason they’ll obstruct. Or maybe just out of muscle memory. Or maybe because they want to stop any thought of reconciliation getting used again by making it arduous.

At any rate, Republicans have signaled a willingness to block the reconciliation bill. Actually, the entire bill. But this doesn’t look like much of a threat.

But my sense is that there’s some confusion about what happens if the parliamentarian rules against the Democrats on this or that provision. So let me be clear on this: Reconciliation isn’t all or nothing. The parliamentarian isn’t ruling whether you can do a reconciliation rider. He’s ruling over what you can do with it. An adverse ruling is more annoying for the Democrats than it is disastrous.

If the parliamentarian strikes a provision or two, Senate Democrats will either pass the reconciliation act with that provision deleted from the package or they’ll rewrite the package to try and achieve the same thing in a way that survives parliamentary challenge. Either way, if the package Senate Democrats pass is changed from the package the House considered, then it will have to go back to the House to be passed again. But since House Democrats clearly have the votes to pass reconciliation fixes, that shouldn’t be much of a problem.

I don’t really think that anyone wants to go back to the House again, given the heavy lift already done the first time around. But Ezra is correct. Knocking out a line or two delays the inevitable. As long as 50 votes are available to pass the reconciliation bill, it will become law. And Senate leaders have made full assurances that they have the votes – I don’t even think there’s a need for a public whip count.

It will be worth seeing if Democrats can limit the length of the reconciliation debate in the Senate. Only 20 hours of actual debate are allowed for a reconciliation bill. But anyone can offer up amendments, and they get voted on without debate at a “vote-a-rama” at the end. Democrats think they have a way to get the parliamentarian to call an over-abundance of amendments dilatory. If this works, there’s no reason not to use reconciliation for other on-budget purposes by the end of this year for fiscal year 2011. That 50-vote process would be available.

Previous post

Jane Mayer to Marc Thiessen: Your Guys' Ignorance Got Us Attacked

Next post

Immigration Reform Supporters March in DC

David Dayen

David Dayen