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Resurrecting Reconciliation

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posted on Dec, 2 2009 @ 01:12 PM

The completely predictable (and often predicted) post-cloture breath-holding from LIeberman, Lincoln, et al., in which they loudly insist they won't allow a health care bill with a public option to go forward, has begun. And with it has come renewed calls for the use of the budget reconciliation process to pass the health insurance reform legislation.

Reconciliation has been looked upon as a sort of magical silver bullet for a while now, ever since people found out that reconciliation bills aren't subject to the filibuster. They haven't paid quite as much attention to the unique difficulties that reconciliation's restrictive rules that might make it difficult to get the bill through the process intact, but that challenge is starting to sink in.

The fact is that we just don't know exactly what survives intact and what doesn't when the decisions fall to the parliamentarian, whose job it is to decide which of the arcane rules apply to what provisions of the bill. And that's not even getting into the fact that there's even some question as to what, exactly, constitutes a "provision." If you thought having a vote on whether or not to end debate on the question of whether or not to begin debate was ridiculous, you probably never even saw the question of what's a "provision" coming.

But there's some credible speculation that the part of the bill that's causing such difficulty for Democratic foot-draggers -- that is, the public option -- has a connection to the necessary deficit reduction that's strong enough to survive a Byrd Rule point of order. It's the policy-making provisions such as those prohibiting preexisting condition exclusions and rescissions that would have the most obvious Byrd Rule problems. And yet these two provisions, at least, are among the most popular and widely supported of any in the bill.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

This long and complicated explanation of how reconciliation works is interesting because it provides a legitimate recourse for some of the more controversial parts of the proposed health care bill.

Some senators, however, believe that subjecting the bill to the reconciliation process would weaken or eliminate some key provision and ultimately make the bill far more conservative.

It seems to me there just has to be a way for a majority of the Senate to pass legislation.

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