As Democrats get ready to perhaps use that arcane, unprecedented, never-before-used, nuclear, cataclysmic, perhaps even unconstitutional reconciliation process to pass health care reform, the angst and misinformation about this Senate procedure is reaching a crescendo.
Just this morning, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” warned “To do this is just very, very dangerous,” and “If we do that, Katie bar the door, I got to tell you.”
The New York Times, in an “Op-Chart” this morning, explains how reconciliation “was intended to be a narrow procedure to bring revenues and spending into conformity with the levels set in the annual budget resolution.”
But it quickly became much more. The 22 reconciliation bills so far passed by Congress (three of which were vetoed by President Bill Clinton) have included all manner of budgetary and policy measures: deficit reductions and increases; social policy bills like welfare reform; major changes in Medicare and Medicaid; large tax cuts; and small adjustments in existing law.
The Times adds:
Neither party has been shy about using this process to avoid dilatory tactics in the Senate; Republicans have in fact been more willing to do so than Democrats.
In answer to the question: “So, would reconciliation represent an anomalous and dangerous power grab?” the authors publish a chart listing 15 major reconciliation bills passed by Congress since the process was first used in 1980, and conclude:
The history is clear: While the use of reconciliation in this case — amending a bill that has already passed the Senate via cloture — is new, it is compatible with the law, Senate rules and the framers’ intent.
A link to the chart can be found with the article here.
The authors of this chart are: Thomas E. Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; Norman J. Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; and Raffaela Wakeman, a research assistant at Brookings
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.