Passing Health Care Through Reconciliation?
If congressional Democrats decide to pass fixes to the Senate health care bill through reconciliation, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) is one of the most important people to bring on board with the plan.
Conrad threw some doubt Wednesday on the plan that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been pushing, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated he could accept — to pass the sidecar reconciliation bill with the fixes before the House takes up the Senate bill, as a way to mollify House members who strongly oppose the more conservative Senate measure.
Conrad, who has been open to reconciliation as long as the fixes are limited, said the order must be reversed. The House must pass the Senate bill first — before either chamber considers the reconciliation package, he said.
“I don’t know of any way, I don’t know of any way where you can have a reconciliation bill pass before the bill that it is meant to reconcile passes,” said Conrad, who would be a central figure on the Senate floor if Democrats embark on the complicated process. “I don’t know how you would deal with the scoring. I don’t know how I could look you in the eye and say this package reduces the deficit. It’s kind of got the cart before the horse.”
When reminded that House Democrats don’t want to do health care in that order, Conrad said bluntly: “Fine, then it’s dead.”
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