Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Max Baucus and Reconciliation

Well time to confess a screw-up. I had it stuck in my head that October 15th was the deadline for passing health care reform by reconciliation and so was reading Baucus's current attempts to drag out the bill as trying to run out the clock. Oops. Instead it looks like October 15th is the trigger that ALLOWS reconciliation and so that Reid is letting Baucus slowly tighten his own noose.

All of which makes me feel better about the prospects for ultimate passage even as it makes me feel kind of foolish. Luckily I didn't spread this misconception too far or God forbid post it at AB or here. Anyway here is Ezra correcting me six months in advance.

First, a bit of background: Awhile ago, we talked about the three types of reconciliation possible on health care. The first type was a simple reconciliation process. The second type was a timed process where reconciliation would begin if the Congress didn't pass a bill by "X" date. And the third type was a threat to pass another budget at a later date that would include reconciliation.

The timed process always seemed the most likely. And Jon Cohn reports today that a deal has been struck: The budget will include reconciliation instructions pegged to October 15th. That's the date by which Congress has to pass bipartisan health care reform. If they fail, then the relevant committees have to write reconciliation legislation that faces a simple up-or-down vote in the Senate. No filibuster allowed. And with 59 Democrats, no Republicans needed.

It's hard to overstate the importance of this decision. This could be the day that health care reform went from being unlikely to inevitable. Without reconciliation, the incentives for the minority are very simple: Kill the bill. Do as Gingrich did in 1994 and hand the majority a failure. With reconciliation, killing the bill just means you're locked out of the final legislation. It's a death sentence for your involvement in the process. It is not, however, the end of the process itself.
I just mistook a trigger for a deadline. Oh well.

1 comment:

Rdan said...

hi bruce.

Few people admit error in published media. Brave and wise.

I noticed that in open thread mid week the rabid aspect of comments was loud. Good grief...and not a link among them...demonrats?

I find I have quit reading some of the comments from certain people except ones I feel might need moderating.

You typed sh*t and askimet caught it, but I released the catch into print.

Linda and Rebecca do get interesting comments from professionals in their field on their own blogs. I don't think one can do both poke in the eye stuff and technical and expect to have rational discussion on open thread.