Senate Republicans are pointing out that the deciding vote in whether Democrats use the fast-track budget process to push through a partisan health care bill belongs to Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.). The Senate Finance Committee chairman has repeatedly says he opposes dealing with health care reform in this manner, at least in part because reconciliation wasn’t intended for such sweeping, non-budgetary legislation. (Though he has wiggled a bit on this point.) Now it is within his power to stop it.
Reconciliation bills are not subject to filibusters. Under this process, the Senate could pass a health care reform bill with just 50 Democrats plus Vice President Joe Biden’s tie-breaking vote — the exact same way the Clinton tax increase passed over unanimous Republican opposition in 1993. Robert Byrd kept the Clintons from using reconciliation to pass their health plan. Will Kent Conrad rise to the challenge this time?
UPDATE: This New York Times report makes it sound like the answer is, “No.”
UPDATE II: The New Republic is reporting that Conrad and other concerned Democrats might have gotten a firmer Obama commitment on PAYGO budget rules in exchange for fast-tracking health care reform.
Notice to Readers: The American Spectator and Spectator World are marks used by independent publishing companies that are not affiliated in any way. If you are looking for The Spectator World please click on the following link: https://thespectator.com/world.