Casualties of the reconciliation process
All hail OpenCongress.org, which has produced a list of the provisions that have been struck from reconciliation bills over the years. It should give you a sense of why it would be difficult to run the whole health-care reform bill through reconciliation, as opposed to the few tweaks and fixes that the Democrats actually plan to pass through the process.
Some of the provisions that haven't made the cut are clear enough. "Harvesting of timber in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska," for instance, did not pass muster. Rules on the commercial use of bovine growth hormone in other countries also got thrown out. Fair enough.
But a 1995 provision to raise the age of Medicare eligibility didn't make it because it didn't produce a change in spending. That surprises me. An effort to bar the use of Medicaid funds for abortions also died, further underscoring the conclusion that no adjustments can be made to the bill's abortion rules. Abstinence education programs did not survive, because they didn't change outlays or revenues. And so on. Like the filibuster, which eats up three days of floor time even when you can break it, reconciliation has a lot of secondary effects beyond its impact on the number of votes needed to pass a bill. In the long run, it wouldn't be good for anyone if reconciliation proves the only way either party can reliably pass legislation.
March 2, 2010; 6:14 PM ET
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