Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What About Reconciliation?

One of the ways that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) could pass the healthcare bill without worrying about a filibuster is through the process of reconciliation, which only requires 51 votes. But as Jay Newton-Small at Time‘s Swampland notes, it’s a stop-gap measure that would probably do more harm than good.

First, Republicans would invoke the Byrd rule – which would require a 60-vote majority to overcome – every five minutes, forcing Dems to pare down the bill and pass something much, much less ambitious. It took weeks to get a cloture vote to start the debate — imagine how long it’d take to get the 2,074-page bill through God knows how many Byrd rule objections — even if everyone proves to be germane. And second, the budget expires in five years – meaning Congress would have to go through this whole process all over again to either extend or make permanent the changes.

Reconciliation would also be an admission of defeat by the Democrats and President Obama on healthcare; they would have to settle for merely the illusion of passing something called “healthcare reform” just to say they did it and have very little to show for it.

If the Democrats and the president truly believe that they have something worth fighting for, then they need to go forward with the best they can come up with and not try to get it through with some parliamentary maneuver.