Reconciliation and Obamacare A “Bad Mix”

Charlotte Davis /

Recent reports indicate that House and Senate leaders are considering using reconciliation as a means to pass Obamacare (again).  The reconciliation process is a fast-track way to bypass the normal legislative process and to speed up consideration (and passage) of such a bill.  And The Hill reports that there are political reasons to go with reconciliation: “reconciliation is enormously appealing to Democratic lawmakers and the White House because it would let them finish up health care reform by a simple majority in the upper chamber, where passing major bills usually requires 60 votes.”  Clearly the liberals want to use reconciliation because it is the easiest way to get a bill to the President’s desk before Easter.  But if they use it on Obamacare, then they will completely toss aside the letter and spirit of reconciliation rules.

Reconciliation is the last step in the annual budgeting process and is optional.  It was originally designed in the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 to affect permanent spending and revenue programs in order to promote deficit reduction.  Reconciliation instructions call for reduced spending or increased revenues, and in 1985 and 1986 these instructions were further clarified with the Byrd Rule, which allows Senators to raise a point of order against extraneous matter that is included in the reconciliation bill.  This new rule includes 6 criteria to determine if legislative language is “extraneous” or not, and they all serve to further protect the purpose of reconciliation: to reduce the deficit.

In order to enact the Byrd Rule, the following the process has to happen: (more…)