Senate Debates Reconciliation

After President Obama signs a Senate health care bill into law today, the Senate will be able to start work on a House-passed health care reconciliation bill, which contains a number of changes to the original Senate health measure.

"Some have predicted another siege of parliamentary maneuvering in order to delay adoption of these improvements," the President said this week.

"I hope that's not the case."

But all signs are pointing to exactly that.  Mr. Obama signs the bill in a ceremony at 11:15 am EDT at the White House.  He will speak about the same health reform subject an hour later in a visit to the Interior Department.

The Senate will officially start debate on Tuesday afternoon - Democrats will talk big about finishing the reconciliation bill by the weekend, but it won't surprise many people if Republicans are able to slow the bill down.

On Monday, staff members of both Democratic and Republican Senators met with the Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin, who will be forced to rule on a series of procedural challenges to the reconciliation bill.

Frumin has been under pressure from Republicans for weeks, as they've quietly raised questions about his impartiality.

The funny part about that line of attack is that the GOP put Frumin in that job back in 2001, elevated by then Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.

That was after the GOP fired former Parliamentary Bob Dove because of some reconciliation rulings in 2001 that went against the GOP during an effort to approve the first round of Bush tax cuts.

Even funnier is that the Democrats had originally fired Dove as Parliamentarian when they took charge of the Senate in 1987.  Eight years later, Bob Dole brought Dove back when the GOP took over the Senate again.

Like I always say, I can't make this stuff up.

As for the rules under reconciliation, the one most people are familiar with is the ban on filibusters, as the rules restrict debate to 20 hours overall, which Democrats would probably like to burn off in two days.

Republicans aruge that amendments are unlimited, and they will get the chance to test out that theory this week.  We'll see if either side blinks.

If any of GOP procedural challenges succeed, then the Senate would have to send the bill back to the House for further action, most likely after Easter.

After President Obama signs a Senate health care bill into law today, the Senate will be able to start work on a House-passed health care reconciliation bill, which contains a number of changes to the original Senate health measure. "Some have predicted another siege of parliamentary maneuvering in order to ...

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