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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.

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As House Democrats struggle to round up the votes to pass the Senate health care bill, they're considering using more and more obscure parliamentary rules to help them. Politico reports: "Party leaders have discussed the possibility of using the House Rules Committee to avoid an actual vote on the Senate's bill, according to leadership aides. They would do this by writing what's called a "self-executing rule," meaning the Senate bill would be attached to a package of fixes being negotiated between the two chambers -- without an actual vote on the Senate's legislation."

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Sources are telling The Hill that the Democrats have decided to add a bill to eliminate government subsidies to student loan companies to the budget reconciliation bill that will iron out the differences between the Senate and House health care bills.

Senate Democratic leaders have decided to pair an overhaul of federal student lending with healthcare reform, according to a Democratic official familiar with negotiations.

"It's going in," said the Democratic source, in reference to the student lending measure.

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The Senate health care bill already has language to let individual states opt out of the federal system and set up their own health care system. If a few changes were made to the language using the budget reconciliation sidecar, the provision could help shore up liberal votes in the House.

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The Stupak 12

March 8, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Rep. Bart Stupak [D, MI-1] is threatening to keep the House from passing the Senate health care bill (H.R. 3590) and potentially sink the whole health care reform process unless its language regarding abortion is amended to match the language he added to the House health care bill. The Senate bill already blocks federal funding from going towards abortion services, but Stupak wants it to prevent anyone buying insurance through the new Exchanges from purchasing a plan that covers elective abortions, even if they are buying the insurance plan entirely with their own money.

Stupak says that he has 11 Democrats who will vote "no" with him on the Senate bill if the abortion language isn't changed. That's enough to sink the bill. The names of the "Stupak 12" haven't been released, but Brian Beutler of TPM has whittled down various roll call and whip lists to produce a list that seems like it could be pretty accurate:

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All the health care buzz has centered around the budget reconciliation process, but Republicans are starting to realize that the truly important part of the process is whether the House can pass the Senate health care bill (H.R.3590).

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In what were thought to be the waning days of the health care reform process, Rep. Bart Stupak [D, MI-1] came out of left field and introduced the issue of abortion to the debate - nearly sinking everything. Now that health care is again inching towards a finish line, Stupak has returned.

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Rep. Bart Stupak [D, MI-1] went on Good Morning America yesterday to say that he has the votes and is ready to sink the Senate health care bill (and the whole health care reform process in Congress) if it is not changed to match the language he added to the health care bill in the House. But Stupak doesn't have his facts straight on how the Senate bill's prohibition on federal funds for abortions actually works.

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Budget Reconciliation and the Constitution

March 4, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

As the Democrats solidify their plans to use the budget reconciliation process to amend the health care bill, a new argument is bubbling up among Republicans -- that what they are attempting to do is unconstitutional. But, in using budget reconciliation to finish health care the Democrats are squarely within the bounds of congressional rules that were established on a bipartisan basis using constitutionally given powers.

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Health Care Endgame In Congress Starts This Week

March 4, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Democrats are hoping that this week marks the beginning of the end of their long and tortured effort to pass a health care reform bill.

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In his health care announcement today, President Obama made his strongest call yet for Congress to finish health care soon and to do it through the budget reconciliation process. "[Health care reform] 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."

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Moving Forward

March 2, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The negotiating appears to be over, dozens of Republican ideas have been included in the health care bill, and the areas where Democrats and Republicans differ have been clearly identified. As Greg Sargent put it, in his letter today to the congressional leaders, Obama's message to the GOP is, "I'm thinkin' of ya, but we're moving forward."

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More On The Health Care Timeline

March 2, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Voting on health care before the Easter recess has two benefits. First, there's the hope that some Republicans may give up on obstructing the bill – possibly by offering hundreds of politically tricky amendments – so as to not cut into their break. And should health care pass, Democrats could go home to their districts with a major legislative victory under their belts.

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The Pitfalls of Budget Reconciliation

March 2, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

It's looking likely that, if health care reform is going to get finished, a package of compromises between the Senate and House bill is going to have to be passed first using the budget reconciliation process. But that leaves the bill vulnerable to the Byrd Rule, which will allow Republicans to object to individual sections of the bill and try to remove them.

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Timeline Time

March 2, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Via Political Wire, via Ben Smith: Step one: The House passes the Senate's health reform bill by March 19. The bill then goes to the president for signature without going through conference....After the Senate bill becomes law, the House then amends the Senate bill through a reconciliation bill, to be passed by March 21. That bill would be the only opportunity to amend, add or strike provisions in the Senate bill. Step three: The Senate begins debate on the reconciliation bill by March 23. Deb...

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