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. Justin

    No worries. The meeting over healthcare was to prove to America that republicans agree on many parts of the bill and that everyone knows we need change. Now when the bill passes, it has bipartisan support without bipartisan votes. I applaud the president for bringing the bipartisan agreements to center stage.

    February 26, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  2. Dr.Mike

    Republicans and Republican supporters oppose this bill because we have to pay the bill. Dead beats, do nothing, welfare living, handout asking democrats off course they support it- as long as somebody else pays the bill, in this case Republicans have to pay it.

    February 26, 2010 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  3. Mike in TX

    Us Dems definitely need to do this. The Repubs time and again showed they only want to obstruct. We gave them their chance and they showed their true colors. Now lets get this done they only way its going to happen. The Repubs have used reconciliation 16 times of the 22 times its been tried. Time for Dems to do it now! The American people want action on health care. We need to be the party that shows America we can get things done.

    February 26, 2010 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  4. Leon

    Coakleyd: A politician in a "safe" seat with lots of support from bigwig party members, or just historically safe, gets beat by an unknown in the last weeks of the campaign. i.e. Due to her extreme arrogance the first female Speaker of the House was Coakleyd in 2010.

    February 26, 2010 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  5. Center left-out

    CNN stop using Republicans talking points about Health Care reconciliation. Health Care already pass by a majority 60 votes back in December. Since when having a majority is ramming legislation through. The reconciliation is use now only to merge both the senate and House bill. The Democrats won, let them fix the problem. CNN cut through the bull and set the record straight.

    February 26, 2010 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  6. FactCheck

    If the Dems go ahead with this against the American public,
    --–

    Yeah, like you wing-nuts speak for the rest of us. The arrogance of your type continues to astound.

    February 26, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  7. ib

    This country can't afford the out of controll spending it is doing right now and the left wingers are blind to that. This country would be a lot better off without Pelosi; she needs to get off her high horse; disgusting woman.

    February 26, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  8. Leo

    TA, you are mistaken, Reconciliation was threatened but never used (and it was in the context of Dems filibustering bench nominations) under the GWB time frame. In fact, Reid, Pelosi, Obama, HR Clinton, Dodd, and Biden ALL protested against it as a "naked power grab". They were correct, and Reconciliation was not used. Now, all of a sudden, the Dems want to do the power grab. In the end, both parties are morally corrupt hypocrites, bought and sold by special interests. To say the Republicans are evil and the Democrats are noble is completely foolish. You are a sheep. Research the facts and stop parroting party lines. You are a naive ignorant sheep.

    February 26, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  9. JLM

    The party of no ideas has no plans to pass health reform, so it should be passed without them,the GOP is in the bed with the Insurance Companies.

    February 26, 2010 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  10. BeverlyNC

    Democrats should DEFINITELY use whatever method available to get healthcare passed and shut down the lying, hypocritical Republicans once and for all.

    It was very obvious in the Healthcare Summit that Republicans are NEVER going to compromise and NEVER going to support healthcare the American People DO want.

    I think President Obama should strip Congress of their government-run healthcare plan and their pension so they can get a dose of reality on what it is like to deal with the abusive private insurance industry and how hard it is to put enough money away in your 401K.

    Republicans are clueless to the needs and wants of working Americans. As long as their wealth, healthcare, and jobs are safe then to hell with those beneath their elitist white class. They are AGAINST the People and only work for corporations.

    February 26, 2010 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  11. Bill

    The Botox Bimbo along with Reid and Jug Ears want to shove this bilge down our throats...They still don't get it!

    February 26, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  12. bb

    "You go Girl!!!!!
    If anyone can get it done...it's you!!!

    Keep up the good work!
    We are so proud to have you.

    February 26, 2010 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  13. The Republicanische Bund LIES

    Out of the 22 times reconciliation has been used in recent years, it was the REPUBLICANISCHE BUND who used it *17* times.

    Goose; sauce; gander.

    February 26, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  14. An 8 year old ELEPHANT dung heap, does not transform into compost in just 1 year!

    Reds, show me where it states in the Constitution, you must have 60 votes to overcome a filibuster in the Senate?

    This is a democracy after all. Cloture vote of 60 is something the Senate designed. It used to be 67 and was later changed to 60. I am for doing away with it altogether, a simple majority should be sufficient, just as in the House. However, if not abandoned, then do not whine when it is used to pass deadlocked bills since the cons have used it approximately 17 times since 1981. It is not something just introduced for this bill. You Reds used it for the tax breaks, that got us in this economic hole.

    You cons have every right to lobby for 9 Dems to join you in defeating the bill, if done through reconciliation. If it is that bad, then finding 9 more Senator is not insurmountable.

    So start lobbying and for God's sake quit whining!!!

    February 26, 2010 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  15. annie against biased news

    Can't believe after the fiasco obama and crew created yesterday that a few people out there are still pushing for this government rationed, financial destroying health care plan. The only 'things' that should have reconciliation used on them are obama, pe-losi, harry (just to name a few) – reconcile them out the door. I had to put boots on to watch their constant lies. These 'things' have not heard one word that the American citizens have been saying! Yet they coddle tax cheats, bribers and any unethical thing they come across.

    February 26, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  16. Way

    I know this will not stay as a post but here goes.
    The Dems had the votes they needed for about a year and they could not pass health care. So now that they lost one seat in they are saying the GOP is blocking health care. That is not correct, watch the slight of hand.

    February 26, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  17. Pragmatic

    Since 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.... why include any other their ideas?

    Of the last 16 times that reconciliation was used, 14 times were republicans in the republican majority in Congress. As for what the American public thinks, that may change if insurance companies raise their rates, as planned, anywhere from 26%-41%!

    February 26, 2010 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  18. Steve (the real one)

    Didn't Reid just yesterday at the summit claim no one was talking about reconcilliation? What a difference a day makes! I guess he wasn't exactly telling the truth! Not sure how this can be defended but the left will find a way!

    February 26, 2010 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  19. NP

    Go for it. It is the only option left for Democrats to fix a broken and fraudulent health care system.

    February 26, 2010 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  20. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    If this method is used, we will remember in Nov.2010. Anyone voting for a bill that they do not know what it says or knows how much it will cost will lose this fall!

    February 26, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  21. Go for it

    Republicans will have it either way in November election. If dems pass the bill, repubs will campaign on this issue and if they don't pass it, Repubs will campaign that Dems can't do anything.
    So I would say: go ahead and pass this bill. It is a step forward which will give millions of Americans access to Health Care.
    May be by November, americans will understand how GOP is obstructing everything and vote against them.

    February 26, 2010 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  22. Roger

    Another backward turn for Obama. As a senator he was against reconciliation for large entitlement issues. Senator Byrd, the lead sponsor of this legislation, made it quite clear that it should not be used for such issues as social entitlement and cap and trade. Reid has nothing to lose - he is a loser already. I wonder if Pelosi will be able to insert another one of her favorite earmarks - like the one that exempted Samoa for the minimum was legislation so her husband could profit with his interest in Dole plantation. November will be here shortly and the few Democratic thugs who have taken over the party will have to answaaer to their peers. 2012 will be the Year of Obama - the forgotten man.

    February 26, 2010 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  23. Otto

    News flash! If the DEMS don't pass this bill, they'll never regain respect from the American people.

    The GOP knows very well that their negative campaign gets the word out but the DEMS are too afraid to be nasty.

    During the past administration, the GOP passed many bills using the same reconciliation. Now, I read and hear garbage about what "Most" Americans think; that's a blatant lie.

    I say, ram it right down their evil throats and if they don't like it; ram every bill 229 of them down their evil throats. If it was Dick Cheney, he would have given everyone the middle finger. Grow some ....about time. Don't talk, do it!

    February 26, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  24. Healthcare garbage bill

    Pelosi should be in jail. Who are the idiots that keep voting her in?

    February 26, 2010 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  25. cmb

    The Republicans would NEVER vote for this bill, even if they wrote every single word, because it would still have President Obama's signature on it, it would still be done during his adminitration and history would state that it was his health bill, and the Republicans are too selfish to allow that. PUSH IT THROUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 26, 2010 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
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