We will soon find out how important Obamacare REALLY is to members of the Senate. The Democrats are increasing their threats to use every means necessary to get the Health Care bill through the Senate. In other words the senate will use the “nuclear option,” officially known as reconciliation. Only in the world of Washington DC politics could one of the most divisive political moves possible be called reconciliation.
Reconciliation allows the senate to end debate with only 50 votes, it goes against the eSenate’s customary procedure, where the time for debate is unlimited,you need 60 of them to invoke the rule that shuts the others up and allows the bill to come to vote. If you don’t have 60 votes to break the filibuster, it doesn’t matter if you have 50 votes to pass the bill.
The reconciliation process, by contrast, limits debate to 20 hours and bypasses the filibuster altogether. It was instituted to ensure that minority obstruction couldn’t block important business like passing a budget or reducing the deficit.
Imagine you want to run health reform through the reconciliation process. Here’s how it works: Congress includes reconciliation instructions in the budget. Those instructions direct certain committees — say, the Finance Committee and the Health, Energy, Labor, and Pensions Committee — to produce health-reform legislation hitting certain spending targets by a certain deadline. Once finished, the legislation is thrown back to the Budget Committee, which staples it together into an omnibus bill and sends it to the floor of the Senate for 20 hours of debate followed by an up-or-down vote
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Dems increase talk of moving healthcare without GOP
By Jared Allen
Posted: 08/24/09 06:20 PM [ET]
A leading House Democrat on Monday said Democrats are prepared to pass healthcare reform without Republican support, echoing comments made over the weekend by a leading Senate Democrat.
“I think that at some point everyone’s going to see that the Republicans simply are not going to agree to any kind of healthcare reform that the insurance industry isn’t supporting and that, reluctantly, we’re going to have to do it without them,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).
“If we have to, we will,” said Schakowsky, a chief deputy whip and the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s healthcare task force.
On Sunday, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Senate Democrats are formulating a game plan that includes passing healthcare on the backs of Democrats alone.
“At some point after we get back, if we don’t have a bipartisan bill, we’ll never be able to meet the goal of having a bill signed into law by the end of the year, so yes, we are considering alternatives,” Schumer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Liberal groups around the country have been frustrated with efforts by some Senate Democrats to craft a bipartisan bill through negotiations among six members of the Senate Finance Committee. They’ve worried those discussions will needlessly water down a bill, and that the party that holds the White House and large majorities in the House and Senate should be able to pass healthcare on the backs of their own members.
The large House majority means Democrats could lose dozens of votes in the House and still pass a bill without Republicans support, but the situation is much more complicated in the Senate. Democrats hold a filibuster-proof 60 votes in that chamber, but health issues have kept two Democrats away from the House for much of the year, and some centrist Democratic senators may not support a healthcare bill that includes a public insurance option.
Even in the House, it may be difficult to pull the Democratic votes together necessary to move a bill that includes a public health insurance option, something that Schakowsky said is the goal of House Democrats.
“I believe what the Speaker has said, that we will pass a bill, that it will have a public health insurance option in it, and I think that we will be able to abide by the timetable that was originally set out, which would be that by October the House will have passed a bill and hopefully the Senate will as well,” Schakowsky said.
Senate Democratic leaders are contemplating breaking up healthcare reform into smaller pieces in part to get bipartisan support for less-controversial provisions and potentially build momentum for the heavier lifting. Doing so also could allow them to invoke special budget rules that would require only 51 votes to move more controversial provisions, such as the public health insurance option.
Schakowsky’s comments came on a conference call organized by the Democratic National Committee that was designed to hit back against Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele’s Monday op-ed in the Washington Post, in which Steele wrote that seniors in particular would be hurt by the Democrat’s healthcare reform plans.
Schakowsky called Steele’s op-ed, “just simply riddled with lies, and we need to call him out on that.”
In announcing a “Seniors’ Health Care Bill of Rights,” Steele charged that the reform Democrats are backing would threaten Medicare and force seniors to accept worse and rationed healthcare. Steele also re-introduced the idea that a Democratic healthcare system would coldly dictate the type of end-of-life care seniors would receive.
“The Republicans are doing nothing but saying ‘no’ and spreading lies,” Schakowsky said. “Fear is their friend.”
The Democrats’ angry reaction to Steele’s op-ed further eroded hopes for a bipartisan healthcare bill, which began to fray at the beginning of the August recess when bipartisan talks among members of the Senate Finance Committee stalled.
Should the try and shove Obamacare down the throats of the American people the Republicans could respond by basically shutting the senate down, just by ending unanimous concet. A Senator may request unanimous consent on the floor to set aside a specified rule of procedure so as to expedite proceedings. If no Senator objects, the Senate permits the action, but if any one Senator objects, the request is rejected. Unanimous consent requests with only immediate effects are routinely granted, but ones affecting the floor schedule, the conditions of considering a bill or other business, or the rights of other Senators, are normally not offered, or a floor leader will object to it, until all Senators concerned have had an opportunity to inform the leaders that they find it acceptable.
reconciliation, look for the end of unanimous consent.