In yesterday’s White House health care summit, Americans heard some talk of “reconciliation” being used to pass health care through Congress, but the true purpose and history of the procedure is likely something of a mystery to most folks, except for a few inside-the-beltway wonks.

In this video, Heritage’s Director of Senate Relations, Brian Darling, explains that reconciliation – otherwise known as “the nuclear option” – is a procedural end-run around the will of the American people.

First developed in the 1970s, reconciliation was intended to be a budgetary tool implemented in the Senate to get around the filibuster, a tactic used to prevent the vote of a proposal by extending debate until it dies. Absent reconciliation, a 60-vote supermajority is needed to stop a filibuster and advance a bill.

Darling says that the use of reconciliation to pass legislation as major as health care reform is unprecedented and offensive for many reasons, particularly because “numerous polls indicate that there’s overwhelming opposition to this ObamaCare proposal with the average American.”

Even Barack Obama decried the use of reconciliation as a procedural tactic. As Darling notes, in 2005, then-Senator Obama said the use of reconciliation would “change the character of the Senate forever” and the result would be that “you essentially have still two chambers – the House and the Senate – but you have simply majoritarian, absolute power on either side, and that’s just not what the Founders intended.”

And Darling says it’s “an unprecedented and remarkable abuse of power.”

Watch his video to learn more.