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  • Reconciliation 101: A "Nuclear" Abuse of Power

    Why Reconciliation Exists

    • What Is Reconciliation? Reconciliation is an optional step of the annual budget process that allows legislation to be approved by 51 votes in the U.S. Senate rather than the traditional 60 votes necessary to withstand a filibuster. This could also be achieved with 50 votes plus Vice President Biden as the 51st.This process is a shortcut that limits debate, including floor debate, to only 20 hours.
    • The Purpose? Reconciliation was created to streamline Senate rules to make it easier for lawmakers to achieve the spending and tax levels in the budget resolution. It was not created to circumvent the Senate’s traditional role as the “world’s greatest deliberative body” and its 60-vote requirement in order to ram through what may be the most significant domestic legislation in our history. The health care bill’s impact goes well beyond the budget.
    • The Byrd Rule: To protect the sanctity of the Senate, Senator Robert Byrd (D–WV) enacted a rule to limit the inclusion of non-germane issues. The Byrd Rule prohibits reconciliation from including measures that do not change outlays or revenues or matters that would increase the deficit for fiscal years beyond those covered by the legislation under debate.
    • 60 Votes: The Senate intentionally has a 60-vote threshold to move important policy issues so that they receive the full attention and deliberation of the Senate. Centuries of tradition dictate that that is where “we pour legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it.”
    • Precedent: The Senate has used reconciliation in the past on strictly budget or fiscal matters, including the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, which, as revenue-altering bills, met the standards set by the Congressional Budget Act.

    The Consequences of Reconciliation: Stopping the Debate

    • Bipartisan Prejudice: 59 Senators currently caucus with the majority. If reconciliation were to be used to pass health care legislation, it would disenfranchise senators and those they represent on a crippling partisan basis.
    • Setting Precedent: By bypassing Senate rules to pass a piece of policy legislation that overhauls one-sixth of our economy, the Senate would be setting a precedent for future partisan majorities to eliminate thoughtful debate and pass reckless and partisan legislation “by any means necessary.” Reconciliation bills are limited to 20 hours of debate and are difficult to amend.
    • Who Is Alan Frumin? The reconciliation process leaves incredible policy issues at the hands of the Senate parliamentarian, Alan Frumin. The non-elected Frumin would be responsible for deciding what could and could not be included in the final health care bill, making him the first of many faceless bureaucrats in Washington who could make important decisions that affect your health care.
    • Checks and Balances: Our Founders designed the Senate as the “balanced wheel” to offset the passions presumed to dominate the House of Representatives. This course of action would turn the Senate into a replica of the House, jettisoning the supermajority requirement and thereby losing a constitutionally vital check and balance.

    A Better Approach to Health Care Reform

    • Start Over: Instead of passing a 1,000-plus-page bill that subverts the democratic process and cannot even garner the support of the entire liberal majority, Congress should start over. They should create simple legislation that lays the groundwork for states to be the leaders in health care innovation; provides economic relief to working American families, giving them real private choice and nationwide competition that allows them to carry their desired health insurance from job to job and home to home; and does not put Uncle Sam in the middle of the doctor–patient relationship.
    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    13 Responses to Reconciliation 101: A "Nuclear" Abuse of Power

    1. Chris J. Breisch, In says:

      Stop worrying about reconciliation. It's an empty threat and the Dems know it. They don't want to face the results of such a decision.

      Besides, the unfortunate truth is…they don't need it.

      The Senate just needs to pass something. It doesn't matter what's in the bill as long as they can get 60 votes for it. Passing something allows them to get to Conference Committee to merge the House and Senate versions of the bill. So they take the House bill and their bill and come up with the bill they really want in Conference Committee. This is then returned to the chambers for approval as a Conference Committee Report. The Conference Committee Report only needs 50+1 to pass, not 60.

      That's how the Dems are going to get what they want.

    2. Pingback: From Heritage: A ‘Nuclear’ Abuse of Power « OSPRI BLOG

    3. Bobbie Jay says:

      There's gotta be a way to stop this! Or maybe not?

      As long as the honest, intellectual, members of congress who are for the people, of the people and by the people, aren't behind it.

    4. Harry Snyder Mich. says:

      Skeptic in MI There are about ten to fifteen million people in the U.S. who don't have medical insurance. It is almost ludicrous to ram through a plan to take over 1/6 of our GDP to help 5% of the population. Some, including me, believe there is an ulterior motive here somewhere……

    5. Jeanne Stotler, wood says:

      PLease watch closely on this action, if they pass this over OUR objections then YOU know what you MUST do, VOTE THEM OUT Nov. 2010 is just a little over a year away. Also push for term limits, a two term for the senate is 12 years so that would give the House 6 terms, I think that is more than enough. Seems these people think they KNOW what we want without listening to US, Gee I didn't know they could read minds. Connelly's letters back to me show he does not read what I write, neither does Webb and WArner.

    6. Ken St Louis says:

      Who said they could read? They don't read the bills they pass, surely you don't expect them to read letters from their constiuents? Term limits is what we, the taxpayers REALLY need.

    7. Jerry from Chicago says:

      The U.S. Senate, the "the world's greatest deliberative body"? Are you kidding me? These people don't bother to read the legislation on which they vote.

      It's a safe bet these folks spend more time deliberating on where their next campaign contribution is coming from than on any other issue.

    8. Olivia Ciambruschini says:

      I had read somewhere that if the Senate majority imposses Reconcilliation, the minority can counter with another measure that could shut the Senate (Congress?) down for a year, allowing no work to be done. Did I dream this or does anyone out there know what I'm talking about? If you do, could you please explain it to me?

      Thanks

      Nana

    9. John E. Champe, Leba says:

      If there are ways to save money to help to pay for new expenditures for health, what are we waiting for? Let's see if it works before we commit to upending the existing system.

      Then work on improving the most grievous problems.

      John

    10. DAN MOFFATT says:

      A LITTLE COMMON SENSE GOES A LONG WAY.AN AGE OLD CLICHE THAT SEEMS TO BE WASTED ON POLITICIANS TODAY.WE ARE ENTERING THE "AGE OF ABSURDITY".LETS JUST START OVER AND PROCEED WITH CAUTION.THESE FEARLESS,LEADERS OF DESTINY WANT IMMORTALITY IN OUR HISTORY BOOKS.THEY WANT TO RUN THE WORLD,THEIR WAY.THEY HAVE AN AGENDA.AS OUR WORLD CHANGES DAILY,THEY,ARE TAKING ON THE BIGGEST PROJECT THEY THINK THE MAJORITY IN THIS COUNTRY WANT.THIS COUNTRY WILL SURVIVE ALL THEIR MEDDLING.WE DON'T WANT THIS KIND OF CHANGE.READ THE BILLS THIS TIME AROUND SENATORS.BY THE WAY !!TERM LIMITS IS WHAT WE SHOULD BE FIGHTING FOR.

      "WE,THE UNWILLING

      LED BY,THE UNQUALIFIED,

      HAVE BEEN DOING THE MOST UNBELIEVABLE

      FOR SO LONG,WITH SO LITTLE.

      WE, NOW ATTEMPT THE IMPOSSIBLE

      WITH NOTHING".

    11. Pingback: Michelle Morin » Blog Archive » 9-20-09 National Health Care Update Links & Alert

    12. Corky, Howey in the says:

      Why is it so hard for for some people to understand that NOT all of the Media ie.; Beck, Bush, Boortz, Heritage, Town Hall meetings, and people in general do not want the Governemt messing with OUR Healthcare? I believe there are some things in out health care system that need be addressed but not the way it's being done.

      Obama is "Sending us up that well known tributary without sufficient means of locomotion." (you know what creek without a paddle) He will be voted out and by that time OUR Country will be a mess beyound words!! BACK OFF CONGRESS!

    13. Pingback: Grassroots in Nebraska: In the News, September 16-23, 2009 | Grassroots in Nebraska

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