Thursday, March 11, 2010

Senate parliamentarian: No reconciliation without legislation

Bloomberg is reporting that Democrat plans to ram the health care bill through by the parliamentary maneuver of budget reconciliation may have hit an unexpected obstacle:  the Senate parliamentarian:
Republicans said the Senate parliamentarian threw up a hurdle to congressional Democrats’ plans to pass changes to U.S. health-care legislation through a process called reconciliation.

Republicans said guidance they received from the parliamentarian means that President Barack Obama has to sign a Senate health bill into law before the House and Senate can approve changes to it. Some House Democrats, who object to provisions in the Senate measure, wanted Obama to hold off signing the legislation until reconciliation passed.

“The Senate Parliamentarian’s office has informed Senate Republicans that reconciliation instructions require the measure to make changes in law,” Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, said in an e-mail.

U.S. stocks rose on the news, reversing earlier losses. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Managed Health Care Index climbed 1.6 percent, after earlier dropping as much as 0.7 percent.

The guidance from the parliamentarian lengthens the odds for Democrats to pass a bill, said Brian Wright, a Collins Stewart LLC insurance analyst in New York, in an interview.

“It means the House has to take a leap of faith,” he said. “They have to trust that the Senate’s going to be able to pass whatever the reconciliation language is going to be.”
This is great news.  If the Senate wanted the same health care reform as the House of Representatives, they could have passed a bill months ago.  I don't think trust between the houses of Congress will carry the day.  Let's hope and pray something more sinister doesn't.

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