Tuesday, August 25, 2009

One Brave Soul Moves Forward: 1st "Gang of 6" member backs Reconciliation for Healthcare

A Brave Democratic Senator, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, a member of the "Gang of Six" Senate Finance Committee charged with finding a solution to healthcare reform, has announce he is willing to support using the budget reconciliation process to push a bill through the Senate if necessary.

Reconciliation is a parliamentary procedure that would allow Democrats to pass health care reform with 51 votes, meaning the party could do it without any Republican support. His willingness to consider reconciliation is another sign that Republicans are unwilling to seriously participate in bipartisan healthcare reform discussions and a bipartisan bill is impossible. Bingaman, recognizing the need for Healthcare Reform has signalled the Democrats can and will go it alone if necessary.

"We made a provision in the budget resolution that Reconciliation could be used to try to enact health care provisions related to health care reform," Bingaman said. "There are restrictions to what you can include in that...but I would support it if that's the only way."

Non-budget-related items typically can't be passed using reconciliation, but Democrats are eying ways that would allow them to include those provisions, as well. Reconciliation would be a difficult legislative path to walk, but it raises pressure on Republicans who are considering supporting the Democratic effort. If Democrats go it alone, those Republicans, such as Maine's Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins, would be left out of the process.

First "Gang Of Six" Member Backs Reconciliation For Health Care

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