Thursday, March 25, 2010

GOP forces new house vote on health care reconciliation bill

Senate Republicans have succeeded in getting two provisions of the House health care reconciliaton bill stripped.  That means the bill will have to go back to the House of Representatives for another vote, something the Democratic leadership was trying to avoid.  From The New York Times:

With the Senate working through an all-night session on a package of changes to the Democrats’ sweeping health care legislation, Republicans early Thursday morning identified parliamentary problems with at least two provisions that will require the measure to be sent back to the House for yet another vote, once the Senate adopts it.

Senate Democrats had been hoping to defeat all of the amendments proposed by Republicans and to prevail on parliamentary challenges so that they could approve the measure and send it to President Obama for his signature. But the bill must comply with complex budget reconciliation rules, and Republicans identified some flaws.

Under the reconciliation rules, provisions in the bill must directly affect government spending or revenues.
Fox News reports that the reconciliation rules violations actually have nothing to do with health care:
The glitches have to do with Pell grants for low-income students.

A senior Senate Republican leadership aide told Fox News that Democrats had tried to improve the cost of the bill while simultaneously piling on Pell grants "without mandating the spending." The aide said Democrats claimed the grants would increase, but were relying on a "future Congress" to find the funding.

"They can't do that," the aide said. "This was one of 100 gimmicks used to keep the score down."

Republicans have been hunting for such violations in hopes of bringing down the legislation. Democrats had also been consulting with the parliamentarian, Alan Frumin, and hoped they had written a measure that would not be vulnerable to such problems.

The two provisions are expected to be formally removed from the bill on Thursday. Both chambers are hoping to begin a spring recess by this weekend.
The Senate didn't adjourn until 2:55 a.m. this morning, and will reconvene at 9:45 a.m. today.

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