With Health Care Talks Uncertain, Democrats Consider a Last Resort





With bipartisan health care negotiations teetering, Democrats are talking reluctantly — and very, very quietly — about exploiting a procedural loophole they planted in this year’s budget to skirt Republican filibusters against a health care overhaul.

They are talking reluctantly because using the tactic, officially known as reconciliation, would present a variety of serious procedural and substantive obstacles that could result in a piecemeal health bill. And they are whispering because the mere mention of reconciliation touches partisan nerves and could be viewed as a threat by the three Republicans still engaged in the delicate talks, causing them to collapse.

Yet with the discussions so far failing to produce an agreement, Democrats are exploring whether they could use the tactic as a last resort to secure a health care victory if they have to go it alone. The answer: It would not be pretty and it would not be preferable, but it could be doable...

...Under the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, reconciliation bills were given special Senate protection and allowed to pass by simple majority votes, after limited debate, to give senators the ability to make the kinds of tough decisions required to cut the deficit...


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