In yesterday’s New York Times, Congressional scholars Thomas Mann, Norm Ornstein and others explain the history of the reconciliation process — requiring a simple majority vote in the Senate — and discuss their views on using it to finalize health insurance reform legislation:
…would reconciliation represent an anomalous and dangerous power grab? The accompanying chart, which lists 15 major reconciliation bills passed by Congress since the process was first used in 1980, provides evidence for assessing that charge…
(click on above image, or here, for full chart)
The history is clear: While the use of reconciliation in this case — amending a bill that has already passed the Senate via cloture — is new, it is compatible with the law, Senate rules and the framers' intent.
And as Speaker Pelosi pointed out in her weekly press conference last week, the simple majority vote would not be used to reform the health care system–just to clear the small improvements to the comprehensive reform bill, which has already passed the Senate with a super-majority, and in a similar form in the House:
This is not about doing health care reform under reconciliation. This is about doing corrections to the Senate bill under reconciliation. The bulk of the bill, 75 to 80 percent of it, is already in the Senate bill. So this is about a small percentage of what is in there.
Read our health insurance reform mythbuster — Bogus Republican Charge About ‘Ramming Through Health Care’ — for more on a simply majority vote»