And, last, an article about the 'reconciliation process' in the Senate (aka 50 votes plus Biden ... ) ~
The pros and cons of reconciliation
... Reconciliation is a rarely used legislative maneuver designed to apply only to bills on spending, taxes or both. Under it, legislation is fast-tracked, so amendments are limited, and debate is closed after 20 hours. It requires just a simple majority of 50 senators for passage, not the 60 votes needed to thwart a filibuster.
The procedure was created in 1974 but wasn’t used until 1980, when then-House Budget Committee Chairman Leon Panetta (D-Calif.), now director of the CIA, employed it to pass spending cuts.
Since then, Republicans have invoked the process to cut taxes or spending in 1981, 1996, 2001, 2003 and 2005. Democrats used it to cut taxes and increase spending in 1990 and to raise taxes and cut spending in 1993, according to an analysis by Michael Solon, a lobbyist at Capitol Legistics and a former adviser to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
As Congress began using the process more regularly, lawmakers also began to find ways to get policy past its seemingly impenetrable revenue-related framework.
The 1997 Balanced Budget Act, for instance, was passed through reconciliation and created both the State Children’s Health Care Program, known as SCHIP, and the Medicare Advantage program for the elderly.
The Bush White House considered using reconciliation to pass its prescription drug plan for seniors, but it was blocked when then-Sen. Don Nichols (R-Okla.) objected to creating a new spending program with fast-tracked legislation.
But Solon said he couldn’t recall a time when Congress “rewrote an entire part of the private sector” through reconciliation.
If Senate Democratic leaders decide to proceed down this road, most experts say the proposals by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to pay for health care overhauls would easily fall under reconciliation guidelines.
“A lot of this stuff is going to cost money. The stuff that costs money, they can do,” said Martin Paone, a lobbyist with Timmons & Co. who, as a top Senate aide, managed Democratic floor strategy for years.
They’d have to avoid one booby trap, though.
A reconciliation bill cannot increase the deficit beyond the budgetary window. That was the fine print that forced President George W. Bush to accept a sunset on his 2001 tax cuts.
The Bush White House gambled that the Democrats would never take the political risk of allowing the tax cuts to lapse. But the Republicans bet wrong, and the tax cuts are set to expire next year.
The pros and cons of reconciliation - Politico.com Print View