Reconciliation Will Have to Wait a Few Days

By Marc Ambinder

Early this morning, the Senate parliamentarian found a few hiccups with House reconciliation bill, forcing the House to re-vote on the legislation next Monday.

Fortunately for Democrats, the provisions, which were deemed to violate the "Byrd rule," are easily fixable.  One involves Pell grants, and Democrats have two years to make corrections. The other is a minor detail. No significant GOP amendments -- no amendments at all, including Sen. Tom Coburn's valiant effort to prevent rapists from getting federally-sponsored erection medication, passed.

The Senate will vote on the measure today at 2:00 pm ET, as the president thanks grassroots health care supporters in Iowa.

So it seems now that Democrats hung together; the Senate reflected the will of the House. And this last point is important: by fulfilling the promise to pass the House reconciliation bill, the thick wall of mistrust that's been erected between the two chambers thins a bit. The more Democrats work cooperatively, the more they can get done. Earlier in the year, the House felt burned by the Senate's inability (and lack of desire to) move climate change legislation -- legislation that cost many moderate Democrats in the House some valuable political real estate.

One final point: technically, the vice president could overrule the parliamentarian, but that's never been done, and given the teensy-weensy provisions that need to be changed, there's no reason for him to do so.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/03/reconciliation-will-have-to-wait-a-few-days/37996/