Tuesday, March 2, 2010

More From Kent Conrad on Reconciliation

Kent Conrad clarified his comments on the use of reconciliation for passing comprehensive health care which were interpreted to mean reconciliation could play no role in the Democrats' effort to pass legislation by any and all means.  Conrad explains how reconciliation could be used to pass health care in an interview with Greg Sargent of The Plum Line:
But Conrad patiently explained that the media interpretation of his comments is wrong. He was merely saying reconciliation would not be used to pass a comprehensive bill, and would only be used to pass the sidecar fix, which he said is workable, depending on what’s in it.

“Reporters don’t seem to be able to get this straight,” Conrad said, hitting the “misreporting” he said is widespread. “Comprehensive health care reform will not work through reconciliation. But if the House passes the Senate bill, and wants certain things improved on, like affordability, the Medicaid provisions, how much of Medicaid expenses are paid for by the Federal government, that is something that could be done through reconciliation.”

“A sidecar would be a good candidate for reconciliation depending on what’s in it,” Conrad said, adding that he didn’t think fixes to abortion or immigration provions would likely work, something that could create obstacles to passing the Senate bill in the House.

Conrad also explained in new detail why he believes that the House must pass the Senate bill first, a view that has been denounced by some critics who want the Senate to pass its fix before the House acts.
The fact that abortion can't be addressed in the sidecar poses problems for Pelsoi.  She may find a number of  pro-life Democrats who voted for the bill because of the addition of the Stupak amendment switching from yes to no.  Consequently, all eyes turn to those who might flip their former no vote to a yes.  AP interviewed 10 of the 39 who previously voted no and found the responses noncommittal:
In interviews with the AP, at least 10 of the 39 Democrats [who voted no] — or their spokesmen — either declined to state their positions or said they were undecided about the revised legislation, making them likely targets for intense wooing by Pelosi and Obama. Three of them — Brian Baird of Washington, Bart Gordon of Tennessee and John Tanner of Tennessee — are not seeking re-election this fall.

The others are Rick Boucher of Virginia, Suzanne Kosmas of Florida, Frank Kratovil of Maryland, Michael McMahon of New York, Walt Minnick of Idaho, Scott Murphy of New York and Glenn Nye of Virginia. Several lawmakers’ offices did not reply to the AP queries…

Democratic leaders have asked colleagues not to use the term “reconciliation” but instead to refer to the process as “majority vote,” said Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-Pa. They also are frequently using the term “up or down vote.”
 I love how Democrats want to pass this all off as a simple up or down vote.  There is nothing simple about the process as Conrad's explanation of the path ahead should make clear:
Conrad said that under Congressional rules, for a reconciliation fix to be “scored,” it’s not necessary that it become law, but it is necessary for it to have passed both houses of Congress before getting fixed. “For the scoring to change it has to have passed Congress, and that means both houses,” he said.

“The only thing that works here is the House has to pass the Senate bill,” Conrad continued. “Then the House can initiate a reconciliation measure that would deal with a limited number of issues that score for budget purposes.” After that, the Senate would pass the same reconciliation fix, Conrad explained, because even on the fix itself the House must go first because the lower chamber must initiate “revenue bills.”
Got all that?  That's Democratspeak for a simple up or down vote.
H/T: Memeorandum

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