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Reconciliation

Today, I looked at the problems with the House demanding guarantees from the Senate, tried to figure out whether the public option is alive or dead, and interviewed Evan Bayh.

Here's what I didn't get to:

1) Greg Koger looks at some options for reforming the filibuster.

2) Karen Tumulty thinks Barack Obama might be signing a health-care bill at the end of next week.

3) Rep. Bart Stupak doesn't sound very confident that he can hold his bloc together.

I was going to wish you a good weekend, but then Eric Massa tickled me till I couldn't breathe.

By Ezra Klein  |  March 12, 2010; 6:52 PM ET
 
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Comments

I assume all of you so gung-ho on "reconciliation" were also in favor of the Senate Republicans using the "nuclear option" to confirm GWB's judicial nominees too?

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 12, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

You do remember that the Republicans used reconciliation to pass a number of important laws, like the Bush tax cuts for millionaires? Reconciliation is not in any way a radical legislative move.

Posted by: jnfr | March 12, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Reconciliation CUTS OFF minority debate via filibuster, just like the GOP threatened to do with those judicial nominees.

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 12, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

@JD2: Reconciliation CUTS OFF minority debate via filibuster, just like the GOP threatened to do with those judicial nominees.

Cover up, your ignorance is showing.

The "nuclear option" refers to changing the rules of the senate to disallow filibusters for judicial nominees (but it could be applied to all senate action using the same tactics).

Reconciliation is a law from 1974 that allows for budget related items to be decided by a majority vote under an expedited schedule.

BTW, you constitutional originalist, there is nothing in the constitution about the need for a supermajority to pass legislation in the senate.

"Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States"

Note the lack of any need for a super majority to pass legislation.

"Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill."

Note that the framers specified a supermajority to override a veto. Don't you think that the framers would have put in a supermajority requirement in the constitution if they wanted one?

The ultimate falsehood is that repiglicans are actually debating the substance of the bill, which is what the filibuster was designed for. There would be no need for reconciliation of the repiglicans would allow a vote on the substance of HCR.

Posted by: srw3 | March 12, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Just as there was no need to threaten the "nuclear option" if the Democrats had allowed a vote on judicial nominees.

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 12, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Colbert on "reconciliation":

Nancy Pelosi's stormtoopers are giving Lady Liberty a tittie-punch.

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 12, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

have a peaceful weekend....
we have much to be hopeful for, as we move closer to the passage of this historic health care reform bill.

Posted by: jkaren | March 12, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

@JD2: Again, you are totally mischaracterizing the nuclear option vs reconciliation. Just admit you are wrong. Reconciliation has been used 22 times mostly by repiglicans. Changing the filibuster rule has only happened once, changing the threshold from 67 to 60, 40 years ago. It was changed by a supermajority of 67. The nuclear involves the president of the senate saying that the filibuster rule is out of order and only needs 51 votes to have the VP's ruling stand. This has never been done before. It is a totally different process than reconciliation.

It is the ultimate irony that the hypoclicans are complaining about abusing the reconciliation process when they FIRED THE SENATE PARLIAMENTARIAN because he wouldn't allow the repiglicans to increase the deficit by cutting taxes on the rich. Now, the hypoclican deficit peacocks are strutting about in all their indignant glory, boasting about what the parliamentarian will and will not allow the dumbocrats to do.

Posted by: srw3 | March 12, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

You just linked me to the National Review. If you ever want to earn my trust back, try a warning next time. Kind of like (pdf) but instead (nro). Or, if you want a more general-purpose signifier, you could go (rbs). We'll be able to figure it out.

Posted by: slag | March 12, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

"Things I didn't get to"...

..."Barack Obama might be signing a health-care bill at the end of next week."

You do realize how underplayed that sounds?

Posted by: KathyF | March 13, 2010 2:56 AM | Report abuse

Obama expects to find new issues for his 2012 campaign, Pelosi is willing to sacrifice being speaker for the greater glory of having enacted health care reform, and Reid has his mind on his wife's and daughter's health. But the rest of the Democrats in Congress face losing their jobs in November.

Posted by: suegbic1 | March 13, 2010 4:31 AM | Report abuse

Re Eric Massa: you mock him as though he were a republican. He's just a democrat who squealed about the strong arming people who oppose the bill are getting. Prediction: another weekend of waterboarding will turn enough no votes into yes, OR prepare for the outing of democrats who held out.

Posted by: truck1 | March 13, 2010 7:08 AM | Report abuse

For anyone who would like to look at a REAL fiscal analysis (rather than Ezra's partisan manipulations) of the costs of the Obamacare bill, go to http://money.cnn.com/2010/03/12/news/economy/debt_health_care.fortune/index.htm -- it's Fortune magazine's piece by Shawn Tully.

Posted by: jkilmer | March 13, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Exactly, jkilmer! What government entitlement program has EVER ended up costing less than projected?

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 13, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

"I was going to wish you a good weekend, but then Eric Massa tickled me till I couldn't breathe."

Funny ........

Posted by: korkiemb | March 13, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

"I assume all of you so gung-ho on "reconciliation" were also in favor of the Senate Republicans using the "nuclear option" to confirm GWB's judicial nominees too?" wrote "JakeD2."
--------------

Sorry, JakeD2, the so-called "nuclear option" the Republicans and your friends at Phlox Noose have convinced you that the Democrats are about to unleash, has NOTHING to do with reconciliation.

Read this explanation from MediaMatters:

"In fact, the term "nuclear option" was coined by then-Republican Sen. Trent Lott in 2005 to refer to a possible Republican attempt to change Senate filibuster rules, while reconciliation is already part of Senate procedure and Republicans have used it repeatedly in the past.

"Lott described proposal to change filibuster rules as nuclear option. The term "nuclear option" was coined by Lott, one of the leading advocates of a proposal to change the Senate rule that requires a three-fifths supermajority to invoke cloture and end a filibuster. After Republican strategists deemed the term a political liability, Republican senators began to attribute it to Democrats.

"As Media Matters for America noted, at the time, many in the news media followed suit, repeating the Republicans' false attribution of the term to the Democrats.

"Reconciliation process is part of Congressional budget process. The budget reconciliation process is defined by the U.S. House Committee on Rules as "part of the congressional budget process ... utilized when Congress issues directives to legislate policy changes in mandatory spending (entitlements) or revenue programs (tax laws) to achieve the goals in spending and revenue contemplated by the budget resolution."

"Republicans have repeatedly used reconciliation to pass President Bush's agenda. Republicans used the budget reconciliation process to pass President Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts as well as the 2005 "Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act." The Senate also used the reconciliation procedure to pass a bill containing a provision that would permit oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (The final version of that bill signed by President Bush did not contain the provision on drilling.)
-------------------

If you're going to use the lingo, learn to use it properly.

Reconciliation ain't the "nuclear option."

Posted by: jade_7243 | March 13, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

I didn't say that "reconciliation" was the "nuclear option" but both procedures stop the filibuster. My point was that you can't be for the filibuster only when your side uses it.

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 13, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Jake

In the same vein, the GOP didn't like the filibuster when the Dems used it, so the GOP shouldn't use it now.

So get real, both parties use the tools available to them. The big difference is that the GOP abuses the filibuster and has used it in unprecedented amounts.

Using reconciliation is completely appropriate for either party, and now it's the Dems turn to use it.

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 14, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Memo to firedoglake, klein, and other liberal bloggers: the word, again, is "pivot". I haven't heard it from you all lately. "Pivot." or better yet, "hard pivot." Nancy and Harry have spotted a couple more closet cases among dissenting voters. Now that they've seen what happened to Massa and how he's become a laughingstock (props to Klein for keeping up the Massa jokes and what's wrong with the rest of you?) they are gonna rethink. Keep up the Massa ridicule and can you say, invitation to White House Easter egg roll? Good times. communications.

Posted by: truck1 | March 14, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Lomillialor:

The big difference is that the GOP never pulled the trigger on the nuclear option. I don't think the GOP is abusing the filibuster. Reconciliation however was NEVER intended to pass legislation as broad as Obamacare (Sen. Byrd OPPOSED using it to pass Hillarycare, and I would argue that it is not "completely appropriate" this time either). So YOU get real about which party is abusing what. If the Dems do this, they will have crossed a line neither party has to date. As always YMMV.

Posted by: JakeD2 | March 14, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

In anticipation of what might be the passage of comprehensive health-care reform this week, I wanted share my memories of the race to replace Dick Gephardt as leader of the House Dems. Does anyone else remember the predictions that making Nancy Pelosi the Democratic leader would be a disastrous lurch to the left that would ruin the party's national appeal? Oh, and remember how the more politically savvy alternative to Pelosi was supposed to be Harold Ford?

The people who thought that might look pretty silly later this week (if they didn't already). If HCR passes, Nancy Pelosi is Master of the House.

Posted by: phillycomment | March 14, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

what people on here aren't getting is that the moment one single thing goes wrong (or is perceived to go wrong) with the healthcare bill after its passed Republicans will rightfully say, "We tried to warn you". That goes for inevitible rate increases that Republicans will then blame on the Dems bill. There's only so many children they can put up there as a "show" for the reasons for reform before the general populace turns that off as a circus drama. Now I'm for the Senate bill as I've stated before and I hope it passes and as of now they don't have the votes but I think Nancy can and will twist the arms of the last holdouts (who wants to be the ONE person, no ONE Democrat to not let reform go through) but when the Dems do this with no republican votes (whether or not that's NO for political reasons or not) they'll see an end to their majority. Maybe not in 2010 but certainly by 2012. This all assumes that Republicans stop acting like idiots which granted is a pretty big assumption nowadays.

Then if Ezra gets his wish and ends the filibuster I want no complaining when social security gets privatized by Speaker Ryan or Medicare gets vouchers. Not that I think that will ever happen or even that Republicans would ever vote for that in great enough numbers to get a simple majority but as the saying goes, "be careful what you wish for, you may just get it."

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 15, 2010 12:09 AM | Report abuse

@jd2:The big difference is that the GOP never pulled the trigger on the nuclear option.
Whatever you are smoking, I want some. The reason repubs never pulled the trigger is that Dems gave up and basically allowed votes on almost all of the judicial nominees Bush wanted.

I don't think the GOP is abusing the filibuster.

Repiglicans have more than doubled the number of cloture votes this year over their previous record from the last congress. There are double the number of unconfirmed appointees and judgeships than in the first year of the Gang of Five Bush (who lost the popular vote, but ruled hard right anyway). It is abuse of the filibuster and anonymous holds that the vast majority of the bills and appointments pass by voice vote or by filibuster proof majorities once a vote is allowed. So this means that most repiglicans are just voting to delay the process and clog up the senate calendar, not disagreeing on substantive issues or appointments. If that is not abuse, the term has no meaning.

Posted by: srw3 | March 15, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

@VB: Remember that Ezra and others, including Tom Harkin proposed modifying the filibuster rule in 2005 when dems were in the minority.

Posted by: srw3 | March 15, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Well VB, I had no idea.

" Now I'm for the Senate bill as I've stated before"

I thought you were one of the people railing about a socialist, government takeover of 1/6 of the economy. I am happy that you can see your way clear to supporting this deeply flawed but still worth passing bill.

I am curious, how do you define not acting like idiots?

"This all assumes that Republicans stop acting like idiots"

Posted by: srw3 | March 15, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Well VB, I had no idea.

" Now I'm for the Senate bill as I've stated before"

I thought you were one of the people railing about a socialist, government takeover of 1/6 of the economy. I am happy that you can see your way clear to supporting this deeply flawed but still worth passing bill.

I am curious, how do you define not acting like idiots?

"This all assumes that Republicans stop acting like idiots"

Posted by: srw3 | March 15, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse


srw3,

no i've never railed against socialism because if that's the case then MA is ALREADY socialist. I know how it works. I know why MA works better than NJ or CA or any other state without a mandate but I also understand that you must have a mandate that actually gets everyone covered because if its cheaper for someone to pay a couple hundred dollars than get coverage then it really doesn't work.


How to get Republicans' from acting like idiots?

Get new Republicans in office or at least in power. McConnell has to go. I think he's got delusions of Majority Leader in his head. The old guard has to go. I'd always prefer actual businessmen or women as opposed to life-long politicians (irregardless of party affiliation). that's why I'm 100% for term limits.

See i'm not all that EVIL after all.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 15, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

@VB: that's why I'm 100% for term limits.

Aren't those called elections, you know letting the voters decide about who should represent them and not force out the good pols with the bad.

Term limits were a disaster in Colorado. The only people with institutional knowledge were the lobbyists who end up writing most of the legislation to their liking. As soon as a rep gets up to speed on energy or health care, or education, they are term limited out. I would rather take some of the benefits of incumbency away, (public financing anyone?) than arbitrarily purge all elected officials over time.

Posted by: srw3 | March 15, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

srw3,

ya I suppose you've got a point. It just makes me sick to see a Robert Byrd, a Ted Kennedy, a Frank Lautenberg (and for good measure I'll add in a Republican) and a Strom Thurmond staying well past the time that they are useful. There has to be something that can be done. Maybe senility tests for legislators?

Alright, no cracks about all the Republicans being senile already.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 15, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

@VB: A better media culture that actually exposed what legislators' positions and votes were would highlight the dead wood in the senate and house. And I don't agree about Kennedy (although I do agree on the others). His staff did a lot of heavy lifting while he was there, which is the important thing in the senate. Can't say the same about Lautenburg or Thurmond.

No picking on republicans for being the party of no (and "get off my lawn"), you are no fun.

Posted by: srw3 | March 15, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

srw3,

ya but what's the difference if Kirk was doing it or his staffers through Kennedy. You leave yourself open to criticism if you leave it with a terminally ill brain cancer patient who isn't present for a lot of the votes and actual work it takes.

Sorry about that.

DOWN WITH MARXISM!!!

(is that better?)

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 15, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

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