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Can conference reports be filibustered?

This question was making the rounds on Twitter today, so may as well answer it here, too. The conference report -- that is to say, the consensus bill that emerges after the House and Senate conduct their negotiations -- is subject to the filibuster. It is, however, not subject to amendments. You can vote to filibuster, vote against, or vote for. You cannot vote to remove, say, the Medicare buy-in proposal.

On the bright side for reformers, that means there's more pressure to vote for the bill in its entirety, as you can't hide behind small disagreements. The downside is that there's no reticence on the part of Senate Republicans, and some Senate Democrats, to filibuster. If their delicate agreement suffers during negotiations, there's every reason to believe they will filibuster. My hunch is that the bill that emerges from conference is going to look a lot more like the Senate bill than the House bill.

David Waldman has more details.

By Ezra Klein  |  December 15, 2009; 4:01 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Comments

Or you could listen to Mr. Dean and kill this bill!

Posted by: obrier2 | December 15, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Hey Ezra,

The consensus today appears to be that the Medicare-buy in compromise and the public option (in all its forms) will not be included in the final bill.

However, if the Democrats can get support from Sen. Snowe (and perhaps Sen. Collins) in place of Sen. Leiberman, why can't a triggered public option be brought back to the table?

I ask this because I thought Sen. Snowe had been open to a public option as long as it was linked to a trigger. And while I understand that many progressives have opposed such a compromise, wouldn't a triggered public option be better than none at all IF the triggered public option was a strong one?

Wasn't there talk of such a compromise before news broke of the Medicare buy-in compromise?

Wasn't this considered a pretty good deal at the time (a couple weeks ago)?

Is there a reason why this cannot be revisited?

Thanks!

Posted by: Emes | December 15, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Not quite sure if I understand your conclusion that "the bill that emerges from conference is going to look a lot more like the Senate bill than the House bill."

The Republicans will probably filibuster the final bill (my speculation) whether or not it has a public option, etc. in it, so why not make it as liberal as possible during the conference deliberations. As long as you have 51+ (or 50 plus Biden) "yes" votes what does it matter if either 40 Republicans, or 40 Republicans and 5 Democrats filibuster the bill? Either way, you'd have to break the filibuster to bring it to a vote.

Posted by: tnoord | December 15, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

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