Republicans are in a tizzy that Democrats are threatening to use the budgetary procedure known as reconciliation — it reconciles policy with fiscal guidelines — to overhaul the health-care system, possibly enact legislation on climate change and rewrite education policy.
They have good reason to fret. If Democrats successfully invoke reconciliation, such major bills could pass by a simple majority vote, denying Republicans the filibuster, their sole remaining weapon to influence federal policy given the Democratic grip on government.
The Los Angeles Times reported Sen. Mitch McConnell's criticism of Democrats' potential use of the reconciliation process to pass health-care reform without noting that he repeatedly voted in favor of using reconciliation to pass the Bush tax cuts.
Santorum: What the Democrats have done is to try to short-circuit the process on a major piece of legislation. This has never been done before. We have never seen a major, long-term, policy prescription, whether it's Medicare, or go back throughout history and look at all the major pieces of legislation, none of them have ever been passed using this procedure. ... This is truly an abomination.
Of course, reconciliation has been used nearly 20 times since 1980, when it was first created.
Indeed, Santorum himself was the Senate Republicans' point man in trying to push welfare reform through budget reconciliation in 1995, including it in a budget then-President Clinton opposed.
1. “We are using the rules of the Senate here,” Mr. Gregg said in 2005 as he fought off Democratic complaints that reconciliation was wrongly being employed to block filibusters against opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. “Is there something wrong with majority rules? I don’t think so.”
2. “It is not appropriate to use reconciliation, which cuts off the role of the Senate, on something as broad and extensive as rewriting the health care laws of this country,” said Mr. Gregg in one of his many attempts to explain why he is against reconciliation after he was for it.