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Obama Calls on Congress to Finish Health Care Using the Budget Reconciliation Process

March 3, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Very little new content in President Obama’s big health care announcement today. It was essentially a public version of the letter he sent to Democratic and Republican leaders yesterday, outlining the four Republican ideas from last week’s health care summit that he wants Congress to include in the final bill.

But he made his strongest call yet for Congress to finish health care reform soon and to do it with the budget reconciliation process if need be:

I believe the United States Congress owes the American people a final vote on health care reform. We have debated this issue thoroughly, not just for a year, but for decades. Reform has already passed the House with a majority. It has already passed the Senate with a supermajority of sixty votes. And now it deserves the same kind of up-or-down vote that was cast on welfare reform, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, COBRA health coverage for the unemployed, and both Bush tax cuts – all of which had to pass Congress with nothing more than a simple majority.

To be clear, Obama isn’t calling for the entire health care bill to be passed using the budget reconciliation process. The vast majority of what he wants in the final bill has already been passed under regular procedure in both chambers. All that will be done with budget reconciliation, with an up-or-down vote, is the 11-page package of changes to the Senate health care bill that Obama proposed last week, plus the four new Republican ideas he mentioned today. Most of this new stuff is not even really new — it’s compromise material between the slightly differing health care bills that passed under regular procedure in the Senate and the House.

The reconciliation bill still has to be put into legislative language by the House and Senate budget committees. Since everything that goes through budget reconciliation is vulnerable for removal under the Byrd Rule, the committees could decide to tweak Obama’s proposal at this stage. Basically, the Byrd Rule requires everything passed under budget reconciliation to be more than incidentally related to budget changes. For example, all budget reconciliation provisions must either affect outlays or revenues, or it can be cut by the Senate Parliamentarian at the behest of the Republicans. According to the Democrats’ new timeline, the final reconciliation bill will be ready for House action on March 23.

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  • deborahg6 03/03/2010 1:09pm
    Link Reply
    + -1

    “You know, the Founders designed this system, as frustrating it is, to make sure that there’s a broad consensus before the country moves forward,” then-Sen. Obama told the audience (2005).

    This is soft tyranny in all of its glory. Thankfully, if this passes, we can begin the work of repealling this legistlation. Starting with the 2010 elections.

  • Comm_reply
    nukified 03/04/2010 10:46am

    surprisingly enough, our only attempt to be able to save our slowly declining health care system and economy (because of corporate greed, predatory lending and the like) is by reforming our healthcare system.. Yes, this may not be the “give millions to businesses to go buy 30 more jets and give $1 million bonuses to their CEOs”, but its the bill that will allow those currently uninsured, those struggling with health care costs now, and small businesses that are having to cut workers or rise prices because of rising costs, to be able to continue and help with economic growth and productivity… The GOP bill does nothing close to resolving many of the loopholes that the democrat bill is targeting..

    our best solution?: stop all this crap that capitalism and our government has allowed to happen… our solution for now?: pass healthcare reform

  • WhoKnew 03/03/2010 2:26pm

    The majority of americans have no idea what the “founding fathers” designed because they either don’t know their own history or they were told complete lies at school about what the “founding fathers” actually believed or wanted.

    Where was all this talk about tyranny when Bush was in office? Where were all you “tea-partiers” then? Why is it perfectly acceptable to have one of your loved ones die in some fabricated war, but not acceptable to have one of your loved ones get health care?

    Once people start getting health care – they’re not going to be willing to give it up again – just try taking Medicare away from seniors and see what I mean!!!

  • btrask3 03/03/2010 3:54pm
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    + -2

    Government Control is NOT the solution to our problems.

    Government Control and interference is the CAUSE OF OUR PROBLEMS.

    The Government has NEVER done ANYTHING efficiently, and they have NEVER REDUCED COSTS OF ANYTHING.

    No matter who’s in charge, Dems or Reps… there is ALWAYS CORRUPTION and CRONYISM.

    When will the american voter ever learn? OUR GOVERNMENT LEADERS lie, cheat and steal. But worse, they keep printing more money.

    But we have a PRESIDENT, along with Democratic Leaders (Nancy and Harry) – who will ignore the majority of american people and VIOLATE our trust to push this MONSTROSITY OF A BAD HEALTH CARE bill, a CORRUPTLY construed bill with buy outs and pay offs and corrupt QUID-PRO-QUO agreements with dubious congress men and women, insurance companies, labor unions, state governments.

    To me, this is bordering on treason… especially if they chose to use reconciliation to ram this thing down the throats of ALL AMERICANS.

    Our country is in BIG TROUBLE.

  • ryandsmith 03/03/2010 5:10pm
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    + -2

    This is not democracy in the least. When was budget reconciliation first put into practice and who created it? The legal ability for Congress to use this method sounds shaky at least. From what I know about rules of Congress, to simply suspend the rules would not be enough to use this method. Suspending the rules allows for a direct vote while bypassing the normal process of debate.

    I have no idea how they are doing this while keeping within the mandate given to Congress by the US Constitution.

  • LucasFoxx 03/03/2010 6:46pm

    The President is acting like he has finally accepted the futility of bi-partisanship in the current congress. He has the patience of Job.

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