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Why the Senate will have to use the House health-care reform bill [CORRECTED]

From Congressional Quarterly:

The Constitution requires that tax and revenue-raising bills -- such as a health care overhaul -- originate in the House. For that reason, the Senate is expected to take up a House-passed bill, strip the text of the measure and insert the text of the Senate’s health care bill. The text would be added as a substitute amendment, a common Senate parliamentary practice.

Correction: As some correspondents noted, I missed a crucial piece of the story. One e-mails:

Your headline is quite wrong and actually does not comport with what CQ says. The CQ article says that the Senate is expected to take up "a" House-passed bill, not "the" House-passed health care bill. Harry Reid does not wish to touch the House-passed bill with a ten-foot pole, so instead he's going to take up an unrelated House-passed tax bill (I'm hearing TARP executive compensation), gut it, and insert the text of the new Senate bill.

In other words, Reid will use a House bill, but not the House health-care reform bill. My mistake.

By Ezra Klein  |  November 17, 2009; 11:12 AM ET
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Hey Ezra: couldn't this provision in the Constitution be used to kill the filibuster? We know that statutes can bind the Senate to limit debate (that's why neither the budget authorizations nor reconciliation bills can be filibustered; something similar for the Medicare commission), and we such bills by definition raise revenue and so must originate in the House. Couldn't the House insert a provision in a budget (or reconciliation) bill that limits all Senate debate to 20 hours following enactment of the bill? Then the Senate would consider the bill under either the budget or reconciliation rules (no filibuster allowed), and provided the bill gets 50 votes (plus the VP), then the filibuster is dead. Under reconciliation, I can imagine a potential problem vis a vis the Byrd rule, but if you've got the 50 votes to pass, you'd have the votes to overrule the parliamentarian (or you just fire the parliamentarian till you get the ruling you want). Why wouldn't this work?

Posted by: rwclayton7 | November 17, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

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