March 11th, 2010
06:55 PM ET
13 years ago

Parliamentarian decision could make health bill tougher for Democrats

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Democratic health care plans hit a road block on Thursday."]Washington (CNN) – A finding by the Senate parliamentarian has narrowed Democrats' options for passing health care reform and could force House Democrats to approve the Senate health care bill and have the President sign it into law before they vote on changes to the measure.

Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin notified leaders from both parties Thursday that the process Democrats are using to pass health care reform, known as reconciliation, must be tied to something already signed into law, according to staff for Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and other congressional sources.

Practically, this could force House Democratic leaders to ask members who oppose the Senate bill as it stands now to vote the measure into law and have faith that the Senate will agree to a package of changes.

House Democrats are still discussing strategy for passing revisions to the Senate bill using reconciliation. But Democratic aides have admitted that it would be easier to vote on the original Senate bill if it were followed immediately by a vote on the package of changes in reconciliation.

Republicans see the decision as a tactical victory, making the climb to health care passage steeper. Don Stewart, spokesman for McConnell, e-mailed a statement confirming the decision, writing, "The Senate Parliamentarian's office has informed Senate Republicans that reconciliation instructions require the measure to make changes in law."

The parliamentarian's decision leaves open one other option: Democrats could try to tie the changes they want in the Senate health care bill to other laws currently on the books. But it's not clear if that is feasible, especially because some key issues in the health care bill are not found in existing laws, such as how to pay for reform.

Filed under: Health care
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. H. B.

    So "reconciliation instructions require the measure to make changes in law"?

    That's easy enough to do. Make changes in the law that now grants insurance companies total exemption from anti-trust enforcement.


    And when done, the Republicans will have hoist themselves by their own petard – and won't they just be joyful over it?

    March 11, 2010 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  2. Old White Virginia Female

    If anyone is left wondering why it appears that nothing can get done by Congress in this country, they have not paid attention to health care reform over the last year. I believe the disdain for Congress by the American people is unfairly placed given the contortions they must go through to abide by the rules. I do hope that the Democrats will find a way and a will to work around all of these roadblocks and get across the finish line as the President says. My thought and prayers are with all of you who are working so hard to make this a reality for the American people.

    March 11, 2010 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  3. Suman1938

    I have heard about 'Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!". It is almost happening to the Healthcare Bill. It is all ONLY because of the stupidity of negotiating with the Republicans for months, giving them time to implant their crooked thinking in the minds of gullible American public. I only hope the Chairman of Finance Committee will learn a lesson from this and see that his bill is passed well in time!

    March 11, 2010 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  4. Mark Schmit

    Republicans will use whatever cheap political tricks they can to keep the poor and working class from receving guaranteed health care. The Democrats in the House and Senate must be firm and patient and do whats neccessary to get past this latest hurdle...Given the opportunity, the GOP would repeal the estate tax permanantly and end all minimum wage, health and safety laws to create what is their real goal...a class society where a few idle rich control all the wealth and power in our society, and working people have nothing.

    March 11, 2010 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  5. Terry From West Texas

    I ask myself, "If the positions were reversed, what would Newt Gingrich do? What would Tom Delay do? What would Carl Rove do? What would Dick Cheney do?"

    Overrule the parliamentarian and shove it down their throats, that's what they'd do.

    March 11, 2010 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  6. C.Z.

    Yay! Up with freedom.

    March 11, 2010 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  7. Sue

    The states are now also getting ready to fight Obamacare--with Virginia leading the way.

    Virginia has already voted/stated--they will NOT force their citizens to buy insurance. At "least" 25 other states are going to join Virginia.

    Obama/federal government CANNOT force citizens to buy insurance-–and the states are now taking steps to make sure that their citizens will NOT be forced to buy insurance.

    Then, when the Republicans take control of the house/senate with the 2010 elections--Obamacare is reversed.

    March 11, 2010 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  8. AK Steve

    Thank you Republicans for preventing us (Americans) from getting reasonable health. Thank you for supporting lobbyist and insurance companies over citizens. I am amazed at how much you have accomplished simply by doing nothing.

    What is more amazing, is how much you screw us when you actually DO do something.

    All hail GOP, Insurance companies, pharmacuticals and insurance companies. Bend over America, take like the sheep we are.

    March 11, 2010 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  9. Brian Devine

    I would like to start off with this. "There is no such thing as a collective
    brain." That was Ayn Rand from Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. Why then do we want a collective health care system. Let us stay with what
    works,and that is capitalism not coummunism.
    Brian S, Devine

    March 11, 2010 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  10. If it is that good?

    I have one simple question.

    If this Health Bill is as GOOD as Pelosi, Obama and Reid say it is,,,,, why can they not get this thing passed without using tricks, payoffs and bribes.

    Maybe, just maybe they need to listen to the country,,, many want reform,,,,, but not this garbage crap they are trying to shove up our butts.

    March 11, 2010 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  11. Gary

    I can't understand....can't we just put a bill that does serious malpractice reform, pre-existing condition exclusion elimination, insurance companies across state lines and reimportation of drugs from Canada? That would get nearly every vote Republican and Democrat. That would also fix about half of our problems and not cost anything to tax payers! Why can't the Democrats listen to the people? Why can't the Democrats learn to compromise?

    March 11, 2010 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  12. Ohhh..thats what its called.

    Gee, I was born in '89. I must ve been asleep when any part of our government became a parliament. They always said it was the President, Congress, and the Supreme Court. Well...go figure. Maybe I should ve cut class a little more often. Or maybe I could ve stayed home with my mother as a boy when she was dying from pneumonia.

    At least shes in a better place now. I'm sure there aren't any insurance companies in heaven. Yeah...and I bet The Man upstairs has the same plan for all his residents. Down here...oh, they suck down here.

    March 11, 2010 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  13. Steve

    Since this Health bill is so controversial, why doesn't CNN take the lead and summarise the highlights of this bill on a couple pages of paper so that people can digest it.
    I would bet 99% of the public don't have any idea of what is in this health bill.
    When will the people know what's in it?? After it passes it's too late. If it passes, for Dems sake it better be good. It will be like water over a dam, you will not bring it back.

    March 11, 2010 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  14. Drop Obamacare. Dump Obama.

    We don't want it. Forget it. Start over.

    March 11, 2010 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
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