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The Budget Reconciliation Cycle Begins Anew

April 6, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The Democrats' foresight to included health care reform instructions in the 2010 budget resolution was what really gave them the edge they needed to get their bill out of Congress and signed into law. When Congress comes back on April 12, the 2011 budget resolution will be one of the top items on their agenda. Jon Walker at FireDogLake, who calls reconciliation instructions the "best hope for progressive legislation," is starting to think about what reconciliation items the Dems might include in this year's budget bill.

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The Senate stayed in session late into the night on Wednesday, voting over and over to reject dilatory Republican amendments to the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act and moving closer to a final vote on passage. The bill proposes a number of "fixes" to the new health care law, like increasing subsidies for helping people buy insurance and lowering tax penalties on those who don't, and includes unrelated legislation to reform the student loan industry. A full summary of the reconciliation bill can be read here.

By the time the Senate adjourned at 2:50 a.m. ET on Thursday morning, they had rejected 29 Republican amendments to the bill on everything from repealing the new health care bill to undoing Washington D.C.'s gay marriage law. But as it turns out, the situation the Democrats were working all night on Wednesday to avoid, having to send the bill back to the House for another vote, is unavoidable. This AP is reporting that the GOP has succesfully altered the bill by finding violations in the bill under the Byrd Rule.

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GOP Reconciliation Objection Thrown Out

March 23, 2010 - by Eric Naing

The GOP yesterday was handed the first defeat in what is likely to be a series of battles over the reconciliation health care bill (H.R.4872) when the Senate parliamentarian threw out a Republican challenge to the bill.

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The budget reconciliation circus we've been blogging about for months begins in earnest today.

According to the Democrats' calendar, the Senate convenes at 2:15 p.m. ET and will immediately start debating the Reconciliation Act of 2010. The bill contains about 120 pages of fixes to the health care bill -- reconciling differences between the versions of health acre passed by the Senate and House -- plus some unrelated legislation to end a program that subsidizes student loan companies.  This is the bill that was passed by the House on Sunday night right after they passed health care reform.

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Obama's Health Care

March 22, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The health care bill that is going to be signed into law tomorrow requires all Members of Congress and congressional staffers to ditch their cushy Federal Employee Health Benefits insurance plans and buy insurance on the new health care exchanges. They would have the same insurance options available to them as everyone else in the individual insurance market. Sen. Charles Grassley [R, IA] wants to add a similar requirement for President Obama, Vice President Biden, the cabinet and top White House staff.

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Health Care Bill Summary: Follow the Endgame

March 18, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The 72 hour clock has begun to tick, all the materials for the final health care bill are online, a House vote is tentatively set for Sunday, President Obama has again postponed his Asia trip, and the votes are steadily flipping in the direction of getting this bill done and signed into law. Click through for a summary & links with everything you need to keep up as health care reform approaches the finish line.

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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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The 6 Parts of the Byrd Rule

March 1, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The Byrd Rule, which governs which legislative provisions are eligible for passage using the budget reconciliation process, has six parts. Provisions are not eligible if they fall under one or more of the parts of the rule. According to the Congressional Research Service, a provision can be ruled ineligible for budget reconciliation under the Byrd Rule if -- (1) it does not produce a change in outlays or revenues; (2) it produces an outlay increase or revenue decrease when the instructed...

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