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

Pelosi makes reconciliation push

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/10/art.pelosi1210.gi.jpg caption="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. Robin NYC

    Good! Finally!

    Its enough time wasted on trying to reason with the Party of No-No's. They want only to keep their own personal profit margins high. We shouldn't have to wait for healthcare reform any longer.

    Let them carry their printouts around town. Very helpful, Mr. Boenner.

    February 26, 2010 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  2. Healthcare garbage bill

    Obama and Pelosi didn't want to hear republican solutions. They didn't listen. And now they want to pass a bill that only 29% of Americans support (60% oppose).

    Powerhunger, greedy fat-cat democrats. Makes me sick.

    February 26, 2010 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  3. m smith

    you go girl any bill is better than no bill. and the repos are not going to support it any way. Watch if it ends up helping people they will start taking credit.

    February 26, 2010 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  4. The Lady

    Yes Yes, music to my ears.

    February 26, 2010 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  5. Joyce in South Carolina

    It is about time that our Congress do something that will be for the good of the people.

    Way to go Nancy !!!!!

    February 26, 2010 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  6. Cindy

    Go Nancy!

    February 26, 2010 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  7. diane

    Jim, I listened to the WHOLE meeting yesterday, and the only thing the GOP had to offer were the same old partisan talking points. No attempt was made to budge one iota on their part. Too afraid to make any concessions for fear of losing in the next election.

    If I heard one more Repub. say "let's just start all over", I was going to be sick! As if enough time and energy hasn't been wasted on this already.

    Go ahead Nancy, do the reconciliation. All of the hypocrites complaining about it will most likely be the first ones in line to take advantage of it anyway. You know, the "I hate socialism, but keep your hands off my Medicaid and Social Security" type folks, lol.

    February 26, 2010 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  8. Tony

    The good news is Dems have FINALLY decided that it wasn't in their best interest to pass nothing, and the GOP is not gonna help them. Geniuses all. Now let's see if they can actually do it.

    February 26, 2010 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  9. m smith

    Concerned in san diego should be his repo governor has sure screwed up that state. He has no room to talk. Americans want health care now. So the party of No who have used reconsiliation in the past to their benefit will just have to take their lumps. They have not done one thing in the past year to benefit the American people. We should vote them all out. Pretty obvious by the summit yesterday. Some nut even counted the minutes that every one spoke. At least we have a president who can speak and makes sense.

    February 26, 2010 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  10. Government For the People

    There was no attempt by the Democrats to reach a constructive level of bipartisanship. Just because you put Republicans and Democrats in the same room, that doesn't constitute bipartisanship. Republicans offered suggestions and points to consider, and it was mainly the President, Pelosi, and the rest of the Democrats who said no and did not even want to debate it.
    If the Democrats are so confident that the American people wants the government to have more control and that we should not have the freedom to choose to have health care or not, then just go ahead with this reconciliation and show some intestinal fortitude. If you are right, then the American people will let you know in the elections this year. Of course if the Democratic agenda was so correct to begin with, no taxpayer money would have had to been used to sway politicians through the Louisiana Purchase and the Cornhusker deals that were made. If it is the right thing to do, enough officials will vote yes. Quit finding excuses to blame Republicans when the Democrats cannot even agree themselves on how to reform health care.

    February 26, 2010 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  11. Albert R. K. . L.A., CA

    McCain’s brooding over the past caused Obama to declare “The election is over," turning the health care summit into an encounter-session for Republicans. After a year of tantrums at town halls, yelling at our President during Congressional speeches, and abusing the filibuster like a defiant spoiled brat refusing to move, Republicans finally have to face their dark miserable realities, they lost the election, the majority rules and the health care reconciliation vote will be their Waterloo showing what a small minority they are. On Tuesday Senator Harry Reid put it all in a nutshell when he told Republicans, "stop crying..."

    February 26, 2010 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  12. Eric

    It is about time Pelosi has the guts to take action. Republicans will never pass healthcare or anything that is good for the American people. Bipartisanship isn't working so it is time to take drastic measures to get things done with or without Republican support!!

    February 26, 2010 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  13. JOE

    The two bit BOTOX QUEEN is at it again.....Send her back to Califonia and let her stand on a street corner...And see how much money she will make..

    February 26, 2010 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
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