Harry Reid Whines About Republicans Using Reconciliation, Too

Someone get Harry a waaaaaa-mbulance

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters Tuesday that Republicans “should stop crying” about the possible use of the parliamentary procedure known as budget reconciliation to pass a health care reform bill.

Reid said reconciliation had been used 21 times since 1981, mostly by Republicans when they were in control of the Senate for the passage of items like the Bush tax cuts. (Here’s a handy chart of when the procedure has been used.)

Twenty one times? OK. The list has fewer, however, looking at that list, almost every one was about budgets. The few that weren’t were smaller measures, not one which would have the federal government taking over a good chunk of what amounts to 1/6th of our economy, and heavily affects each of our lives.

Reconciliation, as passed in the 1974 Congressional Budget Act, was never meant to be used in this way. In fact, there is actually a Byrd Rule, adopted in 1985 and named after Robert Byrd, which lays out

Reconciliation generally involves legislation that changes the budget deficit (or conceivably, the surplus). The “Byrd Rule” (2 U.S.C. § 644, named after Democratic Senator Robert Byrd) was adopted in 1985 and amended in 1990 to outline which provisions reconciliation can and cannot be used for. The Byrd Rule defines a provision to be “extraneous” (and therefore ineligible for reconciliation) in six cases:

  1. if it does not produce a change in outlays or revenues;
  2. if it produces an outlay increase or revenue decrease when the instructed committee is not in compliance with its instructions;
  3. if it is outside the jurisdiction of the committee that submitted the title or provision for inclusion in the reconciliation measure;
  4. if it produces a change in outlays or revenues which is merely incidental to the non-budgetary components of the provision;
  5. if it would increase the deficit for a fiscal year beyond those covered by the reconciliation measure, though the provisions in question may receive an exception if they in total in a Title of the measure net to a reduction in the deficit; and
  6. if it recommends changes in Social Security.

Any senator may raise a procedural objection to a provision believed to be extraneous, which will then be ruled on by the Presiding Officer, customarily on the advice of the Senate Parliamentarian. A vote of 60 senators is required to overturn the ruling. The Presiding Officer need not necessarily follow the advice of the Parliamentarian, and the Parliamentarian can be replaced by the Senate Majority Leader.

Does the health care boondoggle meet any of those criteria? You betcha. The question for all you smart folks out there, how so?

Of course, back in 2005, Obama and the Democrats were against reconciliation. Shocking, eh?

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