“I’ve had many conversations this week with the president, his chief of staff, and Speaker Pelosi,” Reid said during an appearance Friday evening on “Face to Face with Jon Ralston” in Nevada. “And we’re really trying to move forward on this.”
The majority leader said that while Democrats have a number of options, they would likely use the budget reconciliation process to pass a series of fixes to the first healthcare bill passed by the Senate in November. These changes are needed to secure votes for passage of that original Senate bill in the House.
“We’ll do a relatively small bill to take care of what we’ve already done,” Reid said, affirming that Democrats would use the reconciliation process.
Will it happen?
Well, I have my doubts, but at a certain point the Dems have to put up or shut up and get something done. Maybe something different will happen because of Obama’s health care summit, but I’m thinking that’s likely a tactic by the White House to say, “So all of those ideas that you’re talking about…those are in the bill. Don’t force us to use reconciliation on this…because we will.”
And to that point, I think we all need to take a step back and remember that the bill they have now represents a pretty significant bipartisan compromise. Republicans can talk all they want about not being part of the actual drafting of the legislation, but they were part of the debate from day one. And this reform bill doesn’t include a single, federally controlled public option, but it still cuts the budget deficit significantly over the next decade and it has numerous insurance reforms in it that will help all Americans in some way. And with insurance companies raising their rates like crazy due to people dropping coverage because they’re unemployed, we all know that this needs to happen sooner rather than later.
But I want to talk about reconciliation for a moment…some politicos are calling it unconstitutional, hyperpartisan, etc. Obviously that’s nonsense. Bush used it 6 times during his presidency and somehow Republicans were perfectly fine with it then. And as I’ve done more research into reconciliation and filibusters, a very solid argument can be made that the filibuster is the result of a legislative mistake by the founders…which necessitates reconciliation as the only solution.
In 1789, the first U.S. Senate adopted rules allowing the Senate “to move the previous question,” ending debate and proceeding to a vote. Aaron Burr argued that the motion regarding the previous question was redundant, had only been exercised once in the preceding four years, and should be eliminated. In 1806, the Senate agreed, recodifying its rules, and thus the potential for a filibuster sprang into being. Because the Senate created no alternative mechanism for terminating debate, the filibuster became an option for delay and blocking of floor votes.
So, as you can see, the intention of the founders was not to create a procedural mechanism for eternal debate. No, they screwed up. It happens. They weren’t flawless, even though many on the right deify them as the arbiters of everything that is righteous and good and if they wouldn’t approve, well, it’s just not good for America.
And so, we need the reconciliation process to move things forward so the minority can’t hold up progress with their procedural tricks…especially after a rule was made that filibusters can be carried out without somebody actually having to speak.
More importantly, even though many have argued that reconciliation will be misused on a health care bill…those are the same people who will tout the filibuster as necessary and just. Well, sorry, you can’t have it both ways. It makes no sense that we got to the point where we always needs 60 votes in the Senate to pass something. A majority is all that has been needed in the past and that’s the way it should be now. End of story.
More as it develops…