Senate Parliamentarian: HC bill must be signed before reconciliation can happen

Posted on March 11, 2010

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The saga of health care reform got a little bit pricklier today when the Senate Parliamentarian told Republican lawmakers that reconciliation can only be used on a health care reform bill already signed into law by the President. This means that House Democrats can’t wait for the Senate to pass a reconciliation “fix” that would amend the bill more to their liking, and now they are forced to pass the Senate bill unchanged.

What the ruling means is that the Democrats are essentially locked into one strategy now – try to pass Reid’s bill in a House of Representatives that passed a different bill by a small 5-vote margin. That looks like an uphill battle as the trend has been for moderate Democrats who voted “yes” last time to lean towards “no” this time. In addition, House Democratic leadership appears to have given up courting Bart Stupak and his bloc of 10-12 Democrats who are opposed to federal funding of abortion via health care.

It’s a tough sell in the House, and I don’t think Pelosi has the votes. Remember, the Senate bill would be passed “as-is”, which means the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase, the individual mandate, and all the other unsavory pieces of the Senate bill would be included before a second reconciliation bill could “fix” the bad one that the House and Senate pass.

Think about that. Democrats are looking to pass a bad bill just to pass something, then pass a second bill on a party-line vote to fix what’s wrong with the first one. Anything seem unnecessarily convoluted and arcane with this procedure?

The Democrats are so desperate for a victory and for this issue to be over with that they’re willing to do anything at this point to score points. They don’t care about passing a massively terrible bill so long as they pass something with “Health Care Reform” in the title so they can claim a win. The American people want Congress to scrap what they’ve got and start over with a more responsible incremental approach – but that’s too inconvenient for Democratic political whims, so they’ll just do as they damned well please in the meantime.

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Posted in: News, Politics