Saturday, March 6, 2010

Reconciliation of Healthcare Bill faces Massive Gridlock in Congress

If the House can pass the Senate version of Obamacare, and that is a big if, Republicans plan to bleed the reconciliation bills to death by using the “Byrd rule.” According to the “Byrd rule,” only budgetary items can be passed by the reconciliation process; not policy items. The Obamacare reconciliation bills will contain many items that relate to policy. Republicans will have those stripped out, one by one, and force the House to keep revolting on the changed bill.

From The Plum Line:
Senior Senate GOP leadership aides have settled on a new strategy that, they hope, will stall or kill the Dem health reform push: They are going to use the arcane “Byrd rule” to try to bleed the reconciliation fix to death and ensure that it never passes.

Senior GOP aides have been studying the rule book in recent days, and they think they have a game plan. Here’s how they hope it will work.

At risk of oversimplification, the Byrd rule is designed to ensure that reconciliation is used to only make budgetary fixes, not policy ones, to existing legislation. Presuming the House passes the Senate bill, the House will then pass a reconciliation fix to the bill, after which the Senate will then try to pass that fix, too.

At this point Senate GOPers will repeatedly invoke the Byrd rule to ask the parliamentarian to strip individual provisions (ones fixing this or that in the original bill) out of the fix, on the grounds that they are policy fixes. If individual provisions are stripped, it would change the Senate’s version of the overall fix.

That would force the House to vote on it again and again, stalling the process further.

“The bottom line is that it is incredibly difficult to craft a reconciliation bill on health care that isn’t subject to multiple Byrd rule violations,” says one senior Senate GOP aide, who was granted anonymity to preview their strategy. “House Dems are likely to be voting on a reconciliation bill multiple times.”

If 'Blue Dog' Democrats fall for their party leadership's snake oil, they are likely to be left hanging. Republicans may block the changes they are demanding and Obama, Reid and Pelosi really don't want to make the changes they want anyway.

[Hat Tip: Blue Grass Pundit]

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