December 14th, 2009
06:30 PM ET
8 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. indy

    Since when is it good to ram legislation that will cost billions to trillions of dollars through the Senate? I still don't understand how taking money from medicare to fund a public option does not shortchange medicare. Also, what account will the additional taxes collected be sitting in for the three years until the public option takes effect? Doesn't anyone here find it strange that they want to tax people for three years before using the money? Do you seriously think that any government official can let money sit to be saved for the reason it was collected? The objective is to spend, not save. I think this bill in its current form is a serious mistake that we will all pay for forever.

    December 14, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  2. Sick of it all

    Nothing but bickering over everything since socialist Obama has been elected. I'm sure whether the health care bill passes or not, the Dems are all toast in 2010. People are sick of them....check the polls and watch the storm brewing for the next election. Lots of Dems will be ousted

    December 14, 2009 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  3. aliou

    Democrats have proven that they are little less than cicis. They can' t stand on their own even with the vast majority we served them on a golden plate.

    If they can't pass the healthcare with at least a strong public option then they would have only themselves to blame if people like me stop believing in a possibility of change.

    December 14, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  4. Bryan

    Crazy question...where in the Constitution does it give the Federal Government the right or power to FORCE me to buy health insurance?

    December 14, 2009 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  5. J-STIZLE ( Oakland, Calif. )

    Go ahead and RAM it through ( with the public option ).
    The sooner the better.

    December 14, 2009 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  6. Johnny DC

    If you believe that Rahm didn't bring up and/or encourage reconciliation as an avenue for his policy push, you are naive and probably voted for "change you can believe in" back in 2008.

    Check your polls, liberals. Not a single poll in the country, on liberal or conservative news outlets, has the current Senate plan polling above 50% approval.

    December 14, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  7. mjm

    "Right you are. And that was another big push that went a long way toward killing off the middle class in America."

    Wrong..you are. If the Bush tax rates expire, the lower 10% goes back to 15%, the middle class tax goes from 25% back to 27%.

    If you couldn't make it under Bush, good luck to you under Obama.

    "this is now a fact: 90% of all American wealth is held by the top 10% of wealthiest Americans."

    What's your point? Keep in mind that poor people never hire people to do anything, rich people do.

    "Lieberman and Ben Nelson are caring nothing about millions of Americans who will suffer and die without health care."

    No, they are worried about the 50 million seniors who depend on Medicare....like my parents. This bill destroys that already failing system not to mention the private insurance industry that employs thousands and covers millions.

    December 14, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  8. Four and The Door

    Hey, I know. Instead of using fancy political tricks to institute an unpopular huge important bill, why not come up with something people need and want?!?! Not the garbage the Democrats have put out there so far. Both the House and Senate bills are pathetic.

    This is no time for the Federal government to do things that increase the cost of health care, I don't care if you do try to call it reform. Come up with something affordable that lowers the cost of health care and Republicans will support it. Really, they will.

    December 14, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  9. aliou

    I am amazed at the American poor.

    They sat around watching bush give the rich many tax welfare check,
    Then they watched him open the treasury and give them $700 billions welfare they because they were too big to fail. Meanwhile americans were filing bankruptcy by the truck load, forfeiting their homes and becoming homeless. Meanwhile, millions were becoming unemployed with the same results.

    Many promises were made all twarted by the same republican and rich americans who just served themselves at the treasury.

    Of course everyone looks down at the neighbor who lost his job, his home as a failure. Not the banks which received bail out.

    No unemployed American is raising has taken his family to the

    December 14, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  10. FRED

    It's really sad that we elect the people into office and they have yet to ACTUALLY work for their constituents both republican/democrats I just dont get this at all! And they wonder why americans cant stand some people in washington! Im just at a loss of words, these people are ridiculous, there needs to be term limits so most of those old azz congressman/senators can get the hell out of there because we need new FACES and FRESH ideas that will take us into the 21st, not these old ass hags that have been there since day one.

    December 14, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  11. Denna

    The Democrats should use whatever means is necessary in order to get this healthcare bill done. The Republicans are planning to take over the House and Senate, if they can fool enough people to vote for them again, so nothing will get done. We will be back where we started. We need to get this done while we have the majority and the strength to do it. We need to strike while there is an administration in the White House that cares for the middle class.

    December 14, 2009 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  12. aliou

    No American has yet to camp outside the white house and the congress after they lost their jobs and homes.

    No american is demanding healthcare reform seriously like the Iranians, Sudanese are demanding of their leaders.

    On the contrary, we've seen the president we elected to clear up after the saga of the bush administration, begging bankers, republicans and other on bended knees to please have the magnanimity to hire one unemployed and to give one more loan to small businesses.
    What a shame. Are we just a nation of talkers? What do you think make the rest of the world revolt against the ruling class? or do we all think that going to war in far away countries would bring riches to us and less corruption that dooms our nation's private and public sectors? When is American going to rise up against the dictatorship of the rich those who hope they would be rich even when they know it would never happen?

    December 14, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  13. Ram it Rahm

    Rahm "Ram it Thru" Emanuel doesn't care what gets passed and whether it is the right thing for the people. He is nothing more than Obama's hatchett man, a young skinny Dick Cheney. Just as hateful, just as self driven.

    Liberman, thank you for standing up and doing the right thing.

    Better to have the right legislation later, than the wrong legislation now.

    December 14, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  14. Greg, MN

    Rahm is clueless how horrible the political prospects of the dnc are for next year already. My wager is any controversial measure not passed in 2009 is dead in 2010 with elections drawing so near. Say good bye to cap and tax, gun control, and any other controversial measure.

    December 14, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  15. ray

    As a hard core dem, I can tell you that if Harry Reid and company screw around and lost this opportuntiy, come 2010 the repubs will take control and we will be back to the era of deregularion and no taxes on the highrollers on wallstreet and in the Huston oil patich.

    December 14, 2009 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  16. MR RIGHT

    Why not use reconcilliation? They used every accounting trick in the book to try to make this seem like a fiscally sound bill, lets see 1.25 Trillion +1.25 Trillion = 987 billion. So why not lie/cheat/steal some more? Its just Money we can print-borrow all we want. LET THEM EAT CAKE the fools.

    December 14, 2009 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  17. There Goes my Future

    Yep, that is a great idea.

    Rush this bill through just so we can get it done by Christmas.

    Here is an idea, even if it takes a few extra months, why don't we take the time to get it right?

    What ever happened to doing the right thing?

    December 14, 2009 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  18. minnie

    If they don't include the trigger and bring Olympia Snow on board(forget flip-flopping Leiberman), I hope they use reconcilliaton. America wants health care reformed and wants all Americans to be able to afford health insurance.

    December 14, 2009 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  19. Get real!

    For those of you that think a watered down bill is better than no bill think about this........you are laying on an operating table for a major operation and you find out the team performing the operation had watered down eduation and training. I'm going to guess you wouldn't be all that impressed!!

    This bill is not going to reduce cost; in order to reduce cost the delivery method to healthcare must be reduced. In other words the doctors and hospitals need to charge less and I don't see that happening.

    I'm willing to bet we could insure quite a few more if fraud, waste, abuse and frivolous lawsuits where dealt with in a better way.

    December 14, 2009 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  20. Jeannie Niles

    Joe Lieberman is selling out getting a viable health care plan for the middle class. Is that really worth all the recognition and accolades from his fellow republicans? Where is the guy that was nominated by Al Gore and was so pleased with his country and fellow democrats? Seems like Joe "plays to whatever/whomever is in his best interests".
    Joe needs to get OUT of politics. He's disgusting.

    December 14, 2009 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  21. Get real!

    Oh, and one more thing. If we want healthcare cost to go down the majority of Americans need to put down the fast food, soda, etc. and start exercising! It is a fact that we have too many obese people in this country which doesn't help matters much!!!

    December 14, 2009 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  22. Mike

    It probably took another 300 million to Connecticut to buy Lieberman just like they bought Louisiana to start this process. The Senate bill also has annual caps for health care, therefore if you get really sick you die, it sounds like the Death Panels are back. So much for government health care. Death and no cost controls. Employers will not hire in this environment.

    December 14, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  23. Freddie

    The democrats do not want to use recocilation because it would be used against them when the GOP recaptures the congress in 2010. Payback would be hell!!!!!!!!

    December 14, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  24. gary

    Good!!! once one party abuses the reconciliation process, then both parties will feel free to abuse this process and we'll have anarchy.

    December 14, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  25. Terry from West Texas

    "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."

    But, when we elected them they told us that they were ready to make the tough decisions. Now we hear that the only decisions they are willing to make are the ones that get them re-elected. Can't they do the right thing and let the chips fall where they may? Is there no courage at all in either house of Congress? They are as timid as a CEO during a recession.

    December 14, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
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