December 14th, 2009
06:30 PM ET
6 months ago

Updated: WH, Senate Dems: No plans to use 'reconciliation' for health care

Updated 6:30 pm ET: Earlier today, two sources - one White House and one Senate - indicated White House chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had suggested to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid the possibility of using budget reconciliation to pass health care. Both sources now tell CNN that Emanuel did not make that suggestion. One of the sources said there had been some recent White House interest in using the reconciliation process. However, the source acknowledged that the idea now appears to be a non-starter. Reid has said he opposes using the legislative maneuver.

Washington (CNN) – As the White House rushes to the finish on health care reform, fissures on the best way to get there are developing between the White House and Senate Democrats.

Two sources have told CNN that White House Chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has been asking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to use the budget process known as reconciliation to push through health reform – and that Reid has rejected that request.

The procedure, which can only be used on budget measures, would allow Senate Democrats to bypass the 60-vote threshold required to end debate on the current bill, and pass the proposal by a simple majority – but would require major changes to the legislation.

Reid’s resistance, said the sources, stemmed from concern that adoption of the strategy would spark major political pushback from Democrats facing re-election next year.

The source said the administration has also been pressing Reid to assuage concerns from Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman – the potentially crucial 60th Senate vote - by dropping a compromise plan that would have allowed individuals to buy in to Medicare at age 55. Lieberman said Sunday that he would not support any bill that included that measure. He has also stressed that he will not support any kind of public health care option, or a trigger that could result in additional public health care options in the future if certain coverage goals are not met.

It’s a dilemma for Senate vote-counters. Liberal senators have been “very flexible,” according to a Democratic source - but it’s unclear if dropping the option from the bill might cost the party their support. One option being considered by the White House has been to return to the trigger idea supported by Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. Gaining her vote, and securing the support of conservative Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, might enable the party to work around Lieberman.

Senate Democrats are slated to meet again at 5:30 this afternoon.

–CNN's Dana Bash, Gloria Borger and Candy Crowley contributed to this report.


Filed under: Health care • Senate Democrats • White House
soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. Scott

    what's more important...getting re-elected or doing the right thing? some of these guys need to get a spine!

    December 14, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  2. Tom L

    This is what I love about Democrats. They want to demonize Haddassah Lieberman because of her ties to the healthcare industry.

    The Susan Komen Foundation is for women with breast cancer. They want to kick out Mrs. Lieberman because HER HUSBAND, not her, doesn't support healthcare reform that just put in a new policy to delay mammograms for 10 years which will, of course, lead to more breast cancer. Anyone else see the irony here?

    Also, to those that say that the Liebermans take money from healthcare companies, Barak Obama has taken more money from the healthcare industry than anyone else.

    December 14, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  3. Tom L

    You do realize that Medicare is going broke, right?

    December 14, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  4. Mike in MN

    That's right Obama, send Rahm to get the Senate to ram a bill down the throats of voters that all polls show they do not want. Just ignore the will of the people you represent. Libermann and anyone else who opposes this bill in the Senate represents the majorty of voters, in short the will of the people. Obama and the liberal progressive Democrats have no interest in what the people want, they just want to pass their liberal bills, never mind only about 20% of Americans say they identify as liberals. The nation is center right and will prove it in 2010 and 2012 by restoring conservative Republicans to power in the House, Senate and White House.

    December 14, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  5. Albo58

    Reconcillation by either party is an attack against liberty! Especially when this bill is opposed by over 60% of the country! Furthermore, why is Dingy Harry and his drones even listening to that thug Emanuel? Last time I checked that weasel wasn't a member of the Senate!

    December 14, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  6. Not worth the paper

    when these idiots finally get around to putting a bill on the floor that they will all vote on, it will look nothing like what we need or what we were promised, will be loaded with pork and will help so few people while raising taxes for everyone else, that it will not be worth the paper on which it is printed.

    idiots, all of them, including Obama and his clowns.

    December 14, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    Just do it Reid you wimp. I guarantee you that being on the Dems' list of targets is worse for you than having GOPers angry at you...the GOPers are NEVER going to vote for you. What do you think happens to your re-election when everyone who put you in office to push through health care reform decides you're the reason it failed because you have no spine?

    December 14, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  8. Mike in WA

    Actually the 2001 tax cuts passed by a vote of 65-35 look it up in the NY times on line, Thank you have a nice day.

    December 14, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "It's a bit like encouraging pre-schoolers to play with fire and loaded weapons"

    No. That's a very poor analogy for health care reform. It is, however, an excellent one for deregulatory policy towards Wall Street. Complain all you want about cap-and-trade...which MIT already showed would only cost the average American household approximately $340 per year more...all you have to do to understand the evils of deregulatory financial policy is look at where credit-default swaps of improperly risk-assessed mortgage securities got us? You can't blame Frank and Dodd for what Wall Street did in order to create hollographic profits on paper and walk away with $5M bonuses for giving the country's economy a prostate massage.

    December 14, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  10. Kim

    What is Senator Reid thinking? They are not going to vote for him anyway. The Republicans will not vote for him with or without the reconciliation. Do what's best for the people!!!! Public Option!!!

    December 14, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  11. Jonathan from Madison WI

    Right wingnuts are as dumb as a woonsocket –

    Hey dummy. We are not a democracy. We are a republic. Take a history class, or read the Constitution before you come on here and look like an idiot. Also, check where it is legal to force people to have to buy health insurance. Even if they pass the bill, the Supreme Court will have to send it back

    December 14, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  12. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    There's your Chicago politics in action.
    What's Rahm going to do next, visit Reid's horse ranch and leave him a "message"?

    December 14, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  13. Jim

    I would like to see this get done. I think the Democrats ought to get it done for their own survival. Senator Lieberman is bargaining in bad faith and his word means nothing so we need to get around him.

    December 14, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  14. Kim

    Senator Reid better be scared because most democrates will vote against him if he doesn't include reform with the public option!! I live in Las Vegas and we support the Public Option!! No public option/No Senator Reid!!

    December 14, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  15. SocialismBad

    This has gone on long enough for the American people to know who needs to get thrown out of office next year. Break and manipulate the rules all you want to cram down the throats of the American people what they have CLEARLY said they don't want. There is NOTHING you can do that cannot be UNDONE when we throw you all out of office.

    Trust me Democrats, you will all rue the day you spit in the face of the American people.

    December 14, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  16. victim of the false prophet OBAMA

    corruption must be protected.

    December 14, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  17. Debbie

    I can't stand fence sitters and that is Lieberman. He plays both sides of the fence. That's not being an independent that's holding the American people hostage. It's political terrorism.

    I think the trigger idea is the best at this point.

    Pass legislation and lets move forward.

    As for Lieberman... time for the Dems to let him fall off the fence. Let him play games with the GOP.

    December 14, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  18. GOPBslapper

    I say let it all rest on Liebermans shoulders to kill the bill. He will go down in history as the Worst American Senator we ever had, Sestak will defeat him in the next election cycle, and those who oppose health care reform will be dropped by their companies plans one by one and be SOL!
    Republicans want Americans to die from lack of insurance, let them win. They'll insure their extinction within 10 years.

    December 14, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  19. W l Jones

    It appears some people want to go back no healthcare and free labor which produce all the basic wealth in this country.

    December 14, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  20. ib

    This bill is outright wrong. We can't keep spending the way congress has been. This has got to stop and stop now. No gov. takeover of healthcare.

    December 14, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  21. Kim

    I bet you if it was the Republicans they would have no problem using the reconciliation. The democrates including Senator Reid and President Obama are such a disappointment.

    December 14, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  22. Gerry NH

    It looks like Chiago style gangster government is well in the white house. Bring them all to the white house to threaten them or bribe them like they did last time with a $300 million bribe.

    December 14, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  23. Edwin

    Rose wrote "Thats right Rahm, push them into something most of this country does not want."

    I am pretty sure you are wrong there, Rose. But even if you are right, it doesn't really matter. Most Americans haven't read two sentences from the bill and don't really know anything about it other than what the media has told them. I would rather have a government which think about what is best for the country than one which worries about the latest poll.

    December 14, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  24. Kim

    If I was Senator Reid I would stand strong for what I believe it. Obviously he's more concerned with pleasing the republicans than saving the lives of millions of people.

    December 14, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  25. Kim

    The Democrates are such failures.

    December 14, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
1 2 3 4 5