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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.

By Ezra Klein  |  March 2, 2010; 6:14 PM ET
Categories:  Congress  
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Next: Reconciliation

Comments

Clearly Dems fear that they might be in minority even after Nov 2010 in Senate and hence they are not thrilled to reform Senate.

However, with start date of Senate reforms at least 6 to 8 years in future, it can give members of both parties to be neutral to that change.

So the question is when are we going to have 'elections on the basis of reforming Senate'? This sucker is killing us and we are today's equivalent of Polish Parliament of past. These are all your arguments Ezra.

This means when is Media going to start putting Senators on 'spot' by asking concrete questions of Senate Reform? This means when are we going to start asking questions to 'primary challengers' about their Senate Reform position? This means when are we going to highlight countless organizations (like OpenCongress.org) who are working tirelessly to reform Senate and our broken Congress?

We need this debate to go from 'broken Congress' to 'how to fix it' and 'this is how going to fix it'.

Posted by: umesh409 | March 2, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

LOL. You think we have a broken government now, just wait till November when the levi breaks on corporate campaign cash unlimited for outside groups, followed shortly by the 2.0 version of striking down money limits for candidates themselves.

The only reform will be to construct a lobbyist wing to the Capital Building. They will run the congress and decide what goes down, that will dwarf their already considerable influence on lawmaking.

Elected officials will mostly just be token warm bodies to give the appearance of government by the people, and will conduct business and votes in service of the coming Oligarchy.

Posted by: GenStuck | March 2, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Ezra -- How do you think the health care reform compromises will fare, given this info?

Posted by: jwb81 | March 2, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

"further underscoring the conclusion that no adjustments can be made to the bill's abortion rules"

Goodbye House

Posted by: cprferry | March 3, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

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