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Reconciliation isn't historic, but Republican use of the filibuster is

There's been a lot of Republican talk (and media coverage) of the idea that using reconciliation to pass 11 pages of health-care fixes is somehow a historic break with precedent. It's not. If you're looking for one of those, however, the Associated Press points out that "with 10 months left to run in the 111th Congress, Republicans have turned to the filibuster or threatened its use at a pace that will more than triple the old record." That actually is historic, in the sense of literally being the first time this has happened in history.

By Ezra Klein  |  March 1, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Next: Paul Ryan and the true cost of health-care reform


You know what else isn't historic? The liberal media giving endless airtime to the Republicans to spout their lies w/o ever being called on it.

Posted by: AZProgressive | March 1, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

You gotta admit, to be the ones making with a historic abuse--er, "exercise" of power, while making it look like it's the other guys are trying to do it take chutzpah. I mean, cajones. And to pull it off takes some political skill, or amazing good fortune.

I was just listening to Rush Limbaugh, who described the process of reconciliation as being the same thing as the "nuclear option", suggesting that, when Republicans might do it, it was "the nuclear option" but now that Democrats are going to do it, it's reconciliation. Though I'm positive he's entirely aware that the Republicans were talking about a senate rule change limiting the filibuster, while Democrats are talking about the same process Republicans used to get the Bush tax cuts, and several other things, passed.

November will tell the tale: does the American electorate go for waffling nuance, or bald-faced testosterone-fueled brazenness?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 1, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

So they're wrong on the merits again. Duly noted. As always, they've picked a battlefield in which being right on the merits is a popgun and having a simple lie repeated endlessly is a cannon. How about coming up with an answering cannon in lieu of the popgun?

Posted by: DaffyDuck2 | March 1, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I'm not here to talk about reconciliation, the Dems have to do what they have to do. I just find it funny that no one in the liberal media is bringing up the opposition to it by the current leaders of the left wing party when the Republicans were trying to use the same measures. The reason I've decided to post is because I saw Ezra on the Maddow show Friday night and it is quite apparent neither has an understanding of the constitution. I'm referring to the segment where you both agreed and implied the Republicans are lying about a healthcare mandate being unconstitutional because Mass. mandated that all citizens buy health insurance. I believe that example clearly shows the essence of the constitution, it limits the powers of the....wait for it.... FEDERAL government. Now I'm not advocating for either party, because they are both doing our nation a great diservice, I am merely stating that in this area, the Republicans are correct.

Posted by: BRohmII | March 1, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Senator Bunning's grandstanding has even more dire consequences. Per TPM, not only were unemployment and COBRA benefits cut off as a consequence of Bunning's filibuster, and 2,000 Dept of Transport employees were furloughed, leading to stoppage on infrastructure projects, but a 21% cut in Medicare reimobursements was triggered. This relates to the "doc-fix" bhut the extension also wnet down in flames.

Bunning really is the poster boy not only for ending the filibuister but for petulant arrogance. How long before the GOP sees him as a detriment?

Posted by: Mimikatz | March 1, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

BRohmll, if a mandate is unconstitutional, it would be because it violates the rights of the individuals who are required to purchase insurance. That being the case, it wouldn't make a difference if it were a state government or the federal government because they'd be violating the same individual rights. As the MA healthcare system is constitutional, it is *likely* that the current HCR bill is constitutional as well.

Posted by: MosBen | March 1, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Ezra must be hard at work on the Paul Ryan piece. Looking forward to it. A welcome distraction from my Int'l Capital Markets homework!

Posted by: gocowboys | March 1, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Steny Hoyer and Pelosi can't even agree as to whether the Senate or the House need to take the first step on the Healthcare Legislation moving forward, and here, HomoCrats are blaming republicans for everything.

I guess, for the Earthquake in Chile you can safely blame George Bush. I'm surprised Obama hasn't gotten in front of the TV cameras to blame bush for that.

If HomoCrats somehow get the Healthcare Deform bill passed, that will give another good platform for the republicans in Nov., "Deform Rollback"

Posted by: darkskin1977 | March 1, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse


Homocrats? What is this, 5th grade? Surely you can muster more substance than that.

Posted by: gocowboys | March 1, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

gocowboys, you beat me to it. Homocrats? Wow. Try harder.

Posted by: MosBen | March 1, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I will throw my lot in with gocowboys and MosBen and ask for the analysis on Ryan's budget gimmickery accusation. I know Megan McArdle was talking about it, but it seems odd to me that the CBO and the Chief Actuary of Medicare and Medicaid would not immediately call that kind of thing out. That's their job. I imagine that Ryan, no stranger to gimmickery on CBO scores, is mostly wrong, but not completely wrong.

Posted by: StokeyWan | March 1, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

The Republican use of the filibuster is, in fact, totally unprecedented. Shelby's hold on EVERY Obama nominee with a demand of money for his state was, in fact, unprecedented. Bunning's current one-man nuking of the jobs extension (which also stalled the doc fix) with zero notice and for reasons nobody understands (or believes) is, if not unprecedented, simply stunning. These are unambiguous and actual facts.

Yet the "Louisiana Purchase," the "Cornhusker kickback" and reconciliation--three things which are common procedures or legislative horsetrades--are treated as more exceptional. Because the Republicans say they are.

It's demented.

Posted by: theorajones1 | March 1, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse


Actually, CBO did call out the plan re double counting:

(I would post the CBO report itself but the computer I'm on won't open it up.)

I feel like Ryan is right on this point. Not necessarily every point about gimmickry, but on double counting at least. I feel as if Ezra is working particularly hard on this, given that on Friday he said (in chat) that he was going to have a response up, and given his Twitter comment. I'm kinda equally interested in the process Ezra is going through to fact check this. I smell a segment on Maddow! Haha

Posted by: gocowboys | March 1, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

I realize I'm stating to obvious, but let me get this straight. The Republican plan for regaining the majority has been to uniformly oppose the Democratic agenda, and then campaign against Democratic incompetence, broken government, and hyper-partisanship? How are they getting away with this?

Posted by: NTSC | March 1, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm an ESOL type, you know, a poor immigrant. so, you will have to excuse my poor english.

Posted by: darkskin1977 | March 1, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse


"The Republican plan for regaining the majority has been to uniformly oppose the Democratic agenda, and then campaign against Democratic incompetence, broken government, and hyper-partisanship? How are they getting away with this?"

As long as the plan is working, who cares whether you "get" it or not?

Posted by: darkskin1977 | March 1, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse


Really? I can't imagine that acting like a 14 year old who just learned the magic of internet anonymity in the comments section of a Washington Post blog is the best use of your time.

Posted by: NTSC | March 1, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Hey MosBen that is incorrect. The states do have this power, the constitution was created to unite the colonies under one federal government while limiting the power the federal government had over them. For example, its very common for a state to require you to have car insurnace such as Pennsylvania does, however the federal government can not mandate the same thing. They did this for very good reason, if the government can mandate that you buy health insurnace they can also mandate the homes or cars we buy or the food thats is available for us to purchase. Now I'm not saying the Fed would do that, I'm just saying they would have the ability to which is why its in the constitution. I'm also not saying the mandate will be taken out of the healthcare bill, I'm sure it will be in there. It would just take someone appealing the mandate to the Supreme court to be overturned as unconstitutional.

Posted by: BRohmII | March 2, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

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