Monday, March 1, 2010

Microreconciliation

There's a certain amount of freakout occurring over this quote from Kent Conrad (D-ND):
"Reconciliation cannot be used to pass comprehensive health care reform," said Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. "The major package would not be done through reconciliation"

But as Congress Matters helpfully points out, that's just fine; it has never been the official plan A to pass health reform through reconciliation. Indeed, even in the current situation, reconciliation would only be used to pass modifications to the bill. The bill has already passed the Senate and is waiting to be passed by the House under regular order in traditional Schoolhouse Rock fashion; one chamber passes a bill, and then the other chamber decides it's good enough that they'll pass it too.

To review, reconciliation has been used to pass the Bush tax cuts; the 1993 Deficit Reduction Act; a number of other bills such as the original CHIP, COBRA insurance continuation, and two budgets under President Clinton and Speaker Gingrich; and welfare reform. All of these bills represent substantially more significant bills than the sidecar modifications to health reform. Meanwhile, thanks to de facto gerrymandering in the Senate, the 55 or so Senators who vote for the reconciliation sidecar will end up representing about 63% of the population. There's no cause to freak out about some sort of abuse of power here. None.
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