February 26th, 2010
03:50 PM ET
4 years ago

Pelosi makes reconciliation push

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed on Friday that Democrats are making tentative plans to use reconciliation to pass a health care bill.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed on Friday that Democrats are making tentative plans to use reconciliation to pass a health care bill.

Washington (CNN) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went further than any top Democrat has before in confirming what was become an open secret in Washington: Democrats are making tentative plans to use a controversial parliamentary shortcut to send the president a health care bill, with or without GOP votes.

The House Speaker called the legislative tool known as reconciliation "a simple majority" and said "that's what we're asking the Senate to act upon."

Democratic sources have told CNN that the general plan is for the House to pass the Senate bill and send it to the president, and for a package of changes that mirror the President's plan to be passed through both chambers under reconciliation rules, which would only need 51 votes in the Senate.

Pelosi for the first time publicly laid out those tentative plans, and said the first step is figuring out exactly what that package of changes will be. She held out the possibility of incorporating some ideas Republicans put forward in Thursday's all day health care summit.

"Maybe we can find some positive suggestions from what they were talking about there," Pelosi said.

But Republicans repeatedly made clear they do not support one large health care bill, so they are unlikely to be swayed by Democrats including any GOP ideas in their legislation.

To work around that Republican opposition by using the reconciliation process, Democrats are exploring two issues: the ins-and-outs of how complicated process could work, and whether the votes are there in the Senate and House to execute this strategy.

On the process, Democratic aides say they are consulting with the parliamentarians in both the House and the Senate on what is possible.

One example of an open question for the parliamentarians is whether it is possible to pass the changes before the House votes on the Senate bill.

Many House Democrats say that's the only way they would agree to the complicated scenario because they don't like the Senate bill, and do not trust the Senate to follow through with a promise to pass the compromise package.

One senior House Democratic leadership aide tells CNN that is "the biggest" obstacle right now in this whole process.

House Democrats would likely require an iron clad commitment from Senate Democrats and the President before agreeing to pass the changes first.

Another question Democrats have for the parliamentarians is more fundamental: what can they actually pass through the reconciliation process? It is only supposed to be used for legislation that affects taxes and the deficit.

Then there is the challenge of whether Democrats even have enough votes to pull off the complicated game plan.

Democratic sources say they still aren't completely sure there would even be a 51 vote simple majority in the Senate to finalize health care with the parliamentary short cut.

Although Democratic leaders are already reminding the public that Republicans used reconciliation many times for their legislation, some Democrats may be concerned about a public backlash in the face of GOP accusations that they short circuited the process.

The House may be even tougher. House Democrats passed their version of health care with a slim majority and will be missing several votes because of vacancies. The one Republican who voted for the House bill, Rep Joseph Cao, R-La, already says he'll be a "no" next time. There may also be some vulnerable Democrats facing tough races this year who decide to change their yes vote to no.

But the biggest obstacle to passing the Senate's health bill in the House and getting it to the president's desk may be abortion. By some estimates close to a dozen anti abortion Democrats may vote against the bill because they say it's not strict enough in making sure tax payer dollars are not spent on the procedure.


Filed under: Health care • Nancy Pelosi
soundoff (88 Responses)
  1. Alan

    If the Dems go ahead with this against the American public, it will be 20 years before they have a majority in either house and it will probably cost Obama his job as well.

    I hope it will be worth it!!

    February 26, 2010 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  2. fair

    These people like Pelosi are just crazy. They will never learn the lesson. They want to bankrupt this country.

    February 26, 2010 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  3. Florida Joe

    Even if ALL of the Repubs ideas were there they would still not vote for the bill.........time to stop wasting time & get the job done...........

    February 26, 2010 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  4. Mark L.

    That's my girl – You GO, Nancy Pelosi – RECONCILIATION – ALL THE WAY !! WE WANT...No, No, No...We DEMAND Universal HealthCare Reform Legislation !! And for all you Grand Ol' Plunderers (GOP) out there that have a problem with it, or talk your foolish rhetoric about COBRA, maybe you idiots just don't get it...How many people can even afford COBRA rates, especially after getting laid off from a job, let alone, for those with pre-existing conditions, that cannot even get insured?? You Grand Ol' Plunderers (GOP) MAKE ME SICK !! You're all just a bunch of GREEDY 'Fat-Cat' Idiots looking to steal from the poor to feed the wealthy !!

    February 26, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  5. ww

    Alan – it WILL be worth it! 20 years from now people will wonder what took so long and be very happy they have it. And yes, much to the "disgust" of the opposition, it will be HISTORIC! RECONCILIATION NOW!

    February 26, 2010 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  6. Concerned In San Diego

    Could somebody please start a recall of Pelosi, Reid and Obama? They are so inept at crafting any sort of rational plan that they need to skirt our laws to "get their way". They are only hungry for power and have almost zero interest in actual government.

    I was appalled at the "health care summit" yesterday. It was a bully session with his majesty Barack acting like the child he is. Naive, inept, out of his depth. His ideas are terrible. His superior attitude is a disgrace. He is right there with Jimmy Carter on the "bad predident scale". He makes George W. Bush look like a reasoned statesman.

    February 26, 2010 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  7. TA

    If reconciliation is in the law, you can use it....if it is in the law without exceptions of how to use it, then the fore-fathers intended for it to be used without exceptions.

    It was a hard pill to swallow when Republicans used it to push for Tax cuts for the wealthy...they should taste their medicine now.

    No one is telling Republicans to like it, just accept it. And Democrats should only feel bad about Republicans leaving them with that one option....because starting from scratch is at the least not a logical option if it was not a horrible option.

    February 26, 2010 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  8. Carrie

    President Obama and the Democrats tried for bipartisanship and the republicans proved once again they are the party of no. It's time to do what's right and pass health care reform.

    February 26, 2010 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  9. D.

    Did she make any reconciliation efforts with the CIA?

    February 26, 2010 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  10. JIm

    Why can't we get make it possible for Americans to go to a doctor and not go bankrupt? The Republicans say no, never. Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck all are wealthy and can pay. What about average Americans?
    Who among you actually LISTENED to the whole meeting?

    February 26, 2010 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  11. Betty in Arizona

    Get it done, Nancy, the Rethugs are not interested is helping the American people, only running for election and dreaming of having your job. Insurance reform needs to take affect immediately, three years is WAY to late. I wish people would stop calling WORKING Americans poor. They have a job, they pay taxes and they support their children. I bet they think they are more well off than the folks who keep calling them poor simply because the ones who are calling the names have no brains. Our Congress are the ones who are on taxpayer welfare. Do nothing and still get a pay check. We should all be so lucky.

    February 26, 2010 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  12. GOP = "I hoe he fails"

    Most Democrats are elected from large states, whereas most Republicans are elected from small states. If 51 Democratic Senators vote for reconcilation, they would be representing approximately 55% of the nation. Instead, what we currently have with 40 Republicans filibustering the bill, is approximately 35% blocking progress.

    I will stand before my God accused of playing a little too rough with the Republicans in order to help the poor and the sick. Let those mamsy pamsy Democrats who are unwilling to do this stand before their God accused disregarding those same people, in favor of the Republicans who have spent the last year employing stunts like the lie about death panels.

    I like the idea of reconciliation. Not only does it pass healthcare reform, it has the added benefits of making the Republicans – who really really deserve it – really really mad.

    February 26, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  13. Read the constitution

    if dems do this, there will be a massive revolt. Go ahead, WE DARE YOU. I can't wait to see Biden, Obama, Schumer and Durbins clips of being AGAINST reconcilliation over and over again. You dems are such frauds. Yuck!

    February 26, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  14. Dan

    Major government spending bills (like Medicare) were not as available to the public in the past. Now they are, and the history of earlier such bills (how they suck big money into them and increase government bureaucracy) is available to the public: Internet, radio, cable TV, etc. and the public does not like it and does not like the midnight deals.

    We have the leadership of the party in the majority live in the 80's while the American public lives in the present and understands future implications.

    February 26, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  15. joec

    I seem to recall that President Bush was going to make some recess appointments for judgeships and how all the demotards were calling this a slap to the Constitution since there would be no vote.. Very similar to RECONCILIATION would'nt you agree? But when has the Constituion really meant much to a bunch of Progressive hacks.

    February 26, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  16. Joe-Wilmington, DE

    "...She held out the possibility of incorporating some ideas Republicans put forward..."

    Well, that's big of her. Beware November Speaker Pelosi.

    February 26, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  17. Read the constitution

    why should 330 million people have their health care trashed and our debt exploded to support the 30 million who are too lazy or unwilling to get a job????

    February 26, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  18. Dar

    Well it is time to start calling your Democrap leaders in your state and let them know that they will be fired 2010/2012 if they shove the pig down our throats.
    Odumbo doesnt care what is in this bill, he just wants to say he did it. And I dont mean the HC Bill, I mean the end of our country as we know it. This bill will destroy our economy right now. We are broke and Odumbo just keeps on getting us futher into a hole we may never get out of. Welcome to 50% taxes boys and girls, look at europe if you dont beleive me.

    2010/2012 REAL Change is coming

    February 26, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  19. TA

    I keep hearing this argument that Democrats are "going ahead against American public will"...........

    The people who make the loudest noise are not the majority and they certainly don't represent the American public will.

    The majority are the people who heard the health care reform talk and voted Democrats into office. The majority are unheard because they are the same people not receiving the care they need while dying in hospital beds. It is what got Obama into office, so I have a hard time believing it will cost his job if he gets it done.

    February 26, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  20. Four and The Door

    If they do this, I think all Democrats in the Senate should get honorary SEIU Union cards to show which organization they belong to.

    February 26, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  21. Flagship, NC

    Obama was elected on the promise of a health care package.
    This means that there is a foundation of support for the plan.

    Once the package has gone through and everyone see the benefits of joining vs higher pricing of premiums, they will all fall into line and the plan will have the public support. Even from the Repubs!!!

    This is a POCKET BOOK ISSUE, people will go to the places and plans that benefit them the most, regardless of party loyalty.
    Go ahead and push it through

    February 26, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  22. Paul Ernest Show

    Anything to conclude this health saga so we can move forward to other laudable things the country needs. Again, congress should stop fiddling while we are all suffering. They have jobs and paychecks while many of us have none. Hold back their paychecks for 90 days and these deadlocks will go away.

    February 26, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    While you are so busy excusing this administration for their
    power trip at the cost of all Americans, remember one thing,
    YOU too will pay a deadly cost for this rammed down you throat
    so called....HEALTHCARE! Bush is in the past and it's time
    to make Obama own this piece of garbage!

    February 26, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  24. Dan

    CNN I am tired of U not informing the public & confronting the right on the areas where the rt & lt differ on Health Care. Someone need to make a chart show where the Dem where last year show where they moved to the rt & what's iin common. Then when someone says the people don't want this bill U can say wait. The bill does the following here what is in common. The big difference maybe $.

    February 26, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  25. Gonzo in Houston

    With reconciliation they only need 51 votes. This means they can jettison some of the worst aspects of the Senate bill. These parts, like no government option (Lieberman), special deals for certain states (Lanrdrieux, Nelson), attracted massive criticism and took out the most important aspects of the bill.

    I would really love to see some sort of malpractice reform included in the bill just to make the pubber vote against it.

    February 26, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
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