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The Hill ignored GOP’s use of reconciliation process in forwarding claim it “was never intended to ram through major legislation”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 2nd, 2009 4:42 am by HL

The Hill ignored GOP’s use of reconciliation process in forwarding claim it “was never intended to ram through major legislation”

In a March 31 article on Democrats’ potential implementation of the budget reconciliation process, which would allow Congress to pass “policy changes in mandatory spending (entitlements) or revenue programs (tax laws)” by a simple majority in both Houses, The Hill reported: “GOP critics of the reconciliation process have said that it was never intended to ram through major legislation.” However, The Hill did not mention that Republicans used the budget reconciliation process to pass several major Bush initiatives, as The New York Times and the blog Think Progress have noted. These initiatives include the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005.

As Media Matters for America documented, Fox News correspondent Molly Henneberg recently made the false claim that “[r]econciliation was last used in 2001 by Republicans to pass the first Bush tax cuts” — an “error” for which her colleague Bret Baier later “apologize[d].” In addition, during the March 20 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity falsely claimed that reconciliation would allow the Obama administration to pass legislation “without any Republicans even having an opportunity to vote.”

From the March 31 Hill article:

Momentum among Democrats is growing to use special budget rules to push major healthcare reform this year through the Senate with a simple majority.

Two possible members of a House-Senate conference committee, which is likely to have the final say on the rules’ use, on Tuesday refused to rule out the use of reconciliation instructions that would include an overhaul of the nation’s healthcare system in a final budget resolution.

Separately, President Obama’s nominee to lead the Health and Human Services Department told a Senate panel that using the rules remain [sic] on the table.

Using the rules could allow Democrats to enact one of their long-sought goals without the support of any Republicans. That’s because the budget resolution needs only 51 votes to pass in the Senate, not the 60 votes needed to move ahead most controversial legislation.

[…]

A House leadership aide said that reconciliation for healthcare is a goal of both the Democratic leadership as well as the White House, and will remain so until either congressional Democrats or the administration get a sense that Republicans are interested in getting on board with their overall approach to healthcare.

Democrats in the House want to avoid a repeat of the economic stimulus bill debate, which a number of Democrats complained was “held hostage” by the three Republican senators Reid needed to attract to win the 60 votes necessary to clear the bill through the Senate.

Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.), the vice chairwoman of the House Budget Committee and a possible conferee, said she would fight for reconciliation instructions that would call on committees to fund healthcare reform by September.

“We want to work with Republicans to get that done, but come the end of September, if we can’t, we know that this country, American families and our American businesses … need us to tackle this,” she told The Hill.

Even House Democrats constantly eyeing whether an eventual healthcare bill will add to the deficit were comfortable with the hard-nosed strategy.

Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), who didn’t specify his own opinion on using reconciliation for healthcare, said it made sense to at least have it on the table.

“It’s silly to unilaterally disarm ourselves at this point,” Kind said. “I still want to see us work in a bipartisan way on healthcare. That should be our goal.”

GOP critics of the reconciliation process have said that it was never intended to ram through major legislation.

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