Reconciliation: Two Scenarios: Recon First, or Recon Second?

More

Some smart readers with advanced augury skills are trying to sketch out what would happen if the White House were to split the health care bill in half, and try to use the budget reconciliation process to pass the more controversial parts of the legislation.  

Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that the Senate parliamentarian won't sustain any objection about the germaneness of various provisions. Which comes first? The insurance reforms and the health exchange -- popular, populist, easily passable? Or the revenue enhancers and payfors -- which appears to need 60 votes?
If senators know that Democrats are going to ram through the hard stuff through reconciliation later, why wouldn't they have an incentive to filibuster the easier stuff?  Republicans will be able to demagogue Democrats as using the reconciliation process as a backdoor to socialism. It's also possible that senators could add items to the easy bill that gum up the later reconciliation process. Knowing that reconciliation is right around the corner makes the easy vote less easy to cast, as Republicans (and Democrats) who oppose the harder stuff aren't blind to the ledger main.

If, on the other hand, if the Senate tries reconciliation first, it might work. Let's say that 50 senators and the House pass a fully-fledged public-option-containing-drug-price-reducing bill.  Yes, it'll sunset in five years, but for those five years, the insurance lobby will be under enormous pressure to reform itself. The insurance industry knows this. It wants the easy bill because it fears the ramifications of not doing anything. This is the baseline condition.

Then -- Centrist Democrats can propose a second bill that moderates the first bill, creates the exchange and the mandate, and doesn't sunset.  Centrist Dems can therefore claim a victory -- liberals will complain, but not that much, because they'll get more than they would under the reverse scenario, the White House gets exactly what it wants, and the media might even call it bipartisan. 

A my correspondent notes, "it's similar to the threat of the EPA on climate change legislation, the EPA is much tougher regulation than a senate bill, which gives congress cover to vote for a bill that is seen as much more moderate than what the EPA plans to do.".
Jump to comments
Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Are Americans So Bad at Saving Money?

The US is particularly miserable at putting aside money for the future. Should we blame our paychecks or our psychology?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In