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Reconciliation: Not New. Not Controversial. And Wouldn't Be Used For Vast Majority of Health Reform

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For Immediate Release Contact: Jacki Schechner 202-510-0605

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February 25, 2010

Reconciliation: Not New. Not Controversial. And Wouldn't Be Used For Vast Majority of Health Reform

News Outlets Continue To Get It Wrong On Reconciliation. History Proves The "Majority Rule" Process Is Far From Extraordinary - Even For Health Care Legislation

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The idea that reconciliation is unprecedented or a subversion of Senate rules is wrong. It's also wrong to say "health care reform" will be passed through reconciliation. In fact, the vast majority of health care reform has already passed the Senate despite an attempted Republican filibuster that forced repeated cloture votes in December.

If President Obama and Democratic leadership in Congress decide to use the budget reconciliation process to complete health care reform, they won't be using it for the entire bill. In fact, they will only be using it for a narrow list of improvements to the bill, in lieu of a formal conference, which the Republicans have promised to obstruct.

Reconciliation isn't controversial, and it isn't rare. While Republicans frame the process as an extraordinary measure used to "ram through" legislation, reconciliation has been used in most years since its first use in 1980 19 times. In fact, in every Congress since the procedure was created, except for the last Congress (2007 2008), the reconciliation process was used to pass significant legislation, and the last nine budget reconciliation bills were initiated and passed by Republican Congresses. Reconciliation is not the same as the so-called "nuclear option," the unprecedented 2005 Republican threat to rewrite the Senate procedural rules midstream to pass judicial nominees that didn't have the votes for Senate confirmation.

But even if reconciliation were to be used for more than just a narrow list of improvements to the bill, as NPR reported Wednesday, "health care and reconciliation actually have a lengthy history. 'In fact, the way in which virtually all of health reform, with very, very limited exceptions, has happened over the past 30 years has been the reconciliation process,' says Sara Rosenbaum, who chairs the Department of Health Policy at George Washington University....In fact, over the past three decades, the number of major health financing measures that were NOT passed via budget reconciliation can be counted on one hand. And one of those -- the 1988 Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act -- was repealed the following year after a backlash by seniors who were asked to underwrite the measure themselves. So using the process to try to pass a health overhaul bill might not be easy. But it won't be unprecedented."

Full NPR article below:

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Health Care No Stranger To Reconciliation Process

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