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GOP: Parlimentarian Puts Reconciliation Fix On Hold In The Senate

March 11, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Roll Call cites “senior GOP sources” as saying the Senate parliamentarian has indicated that President Obama will have to sign the Senate health care bill (H.R.3590) into law before the Senate can act on a reconciliation fix amending the bill.

One of the several options floating around to pass a health care bill is to somehow pass the budget reconciliation fix before the House votes to pass the Senate bill. This option exists to assuage jittery House Democrats who fear that the Senate bill, warts and all, may become law without the reconciliation fix.

David Waldman of Congress Matters argues that it is technically possible for the Senate to start work on a reconciliation fix for the Senate bill now since neither measure has been signed into law yet, or as he says, “although you can’t fix something that technically doesn’t exist, you’re also technically not fixing that thing until it does.”

But according to Roll Call, the Senate parliamentarian disagrees.

It’s extremely important, however, to recognize that not even the Democrats have decided on what exact route they will take to pass health care and that this ruling only affects one possible, and relative obscure, option of many. In fact, Democrats seem poised to push forward on the general frame work they’ve discussed over the past few weeks.

In a strongly worded letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell [R, KY], Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] blasts Republican attempts to stall and kill the bill and doubles down on reconciliation:

I know that many Republicans have expressed concerns with our use of the existing Senate rules, but their argument is unjustified. There is nothing unusual or extraordinary about the use of reconciliation. As one of the most senior Senators in your caucus, Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, said in explaining the use of this very same option, “Is there something wrong with majority rules? I don’t think so.”

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