President Obama recently urged Congress to pass a “health care bill” using reconciliation, sometimes called the “nuclear option,” if needed.
But what is the “nuclear option”?
A 2005 Salon.com article explains, “The Senate’s rules have allowed unlimited debate, or filibusters, since 1806, when senators dropped a rule that allowed a majority of the Senate to put an end to discussion and call for a vote. For the next 111 years, there was no way to stop a filibuster once it had started. But in 1917, when filibusters were blocking Woodrow Wilson’s plans for World War I, the Senate adopted Rule XXII, which allowed senators to end a filibuster by a two-thirds vote on a motion to cut off debate — a procedure called “cloture.” In 1975, the Senate amended Rule XXII so that cloture required, in most cases, the vote of not two-thirds but rather three-fifths of the senators. In today’s 50-state, 100-member Senate, that means it takes 60 rather than 67 senators to put an end to most filibusters.
With the nuclear option, the Senate would effectively change that rule so that a filibuster could be cut off by a simple majority vote.”
Larry Doyle reports on Wall Street Pit, “In 2005 when President Bush hinted that he would look to use reconciliation for purposes of passing some judicial appointments, the leaders of the Democratic Party had some strong words for George W. and his Republican friends.”
Then Senator Obama commented, “What I worry about would be that you essentially have still two chambers, the House and the Senate, but you have simply majoritarian, absolute power on either side. And that’s just not what the founders intended.”
Harry Reid, “A government in which one party has control over all the decisions is bad for America and bad for all our people. Our country works better when we cooperate and work towards compromises that benefit the greatest good and not one group over another.”
Hillary Clinton, “So this president has come to the majority here in the Senate and basically said, “Change the rules. Do it the way I want it done.” And I guess there just weren’t very many voices on the other side of the aisle that acted the way that previous generations of senators have acted, and said, “Mr. President, we’re with you, we support you. But that’s a bridge too far, we can’t go there. You have to restrain yourself, Mr. President.””
Reconciliation is actually a budgetary process and is defined by the U.S. House Committee on Rules as “part of the congressional budget process … utilized when Congress issues directives to legislate policy changes in mandatory spending (entitlements) or revenue programs (tax laws) to achieve the goals in spending and revenue contemplated by the budget resolution.” Between 1981 and 2005 reconciliation was used 19 times, with three of those bills being vetoed.
If President Obama and the Democratic majority insist using reconciliation, they will be forced to admit that “health care reform” is actually nothing more than either a tax or budget legislation.
Unlike some, it’s not my intent to call the Democrats “hypocrites” and give the Republicans a free pass. Both parties can be called hypocrites, but it’s just further proof that, “it’s different when WE do it.”