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Photoshop: Leo Alberti
It’s official. After months of threatening to push the button on the so-called nuclear option, reconciliation — the parliamentary maneuver that Harry Reid said “nobody” is talking about and that President Obama said Americans didn’t care about last week — is a go.
Politico this morning quotes Tom Harkin signaling the green light:
Sen. Tom Harkin told POLITICO that Senate Democratic leaders have decided to go the reconciliation route. The House, he said, will first pass the Senate bill after Senate leaders demonstrate to House leaders that they have the votes to pass reconciliation in the Senate.
Harkin made the comments after a meeting in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office including Harkin and Sens. Baucus, Dodd, Durbin, Schumer and Murray.
When asked whether the leaders had made the decision, Durbin said: “We are moving ahead with a version of the health care reform bill that we believe has a good chance of passing both the House and the Senate.”
He then put the onus on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to signal whether she can provide enough votes to pass the Senate bill, followed by a package of fixes through reconciliation.
Last night, Jake Tapper said President Obama was ready for reconciliation:
White House officials tell ABC News that in his remarks tomorrow President Obama will indicate a willingness to work with Republicans on some issue to get a health care reform bill passed but will suggest that if it is necessary, Democrats will use the controversial “reconciliation” rules requiring only 51 Senate votes to pass the “fix” to the Senate bill, as opposed to the 60 votes to stop a filibuster and proceed to a vote on a bill.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been awaiting the president’s remarks direction on how health care reform will proceed.
In his remarks, scheduled to be at the White House, the president will paint a picture of what he will say will happen without a health care reform bill – skyrocketing premiums, everyone at the mercy of the insurance industry as recently seen with the 39% premium increases proposed by Anthem Blue Cross in California.
He will note that the “fixed” bill will include the proposal for a new “Health Insurance Rate Authority” to set guidelines for reasonable rate increases. If proposed premium increases are not justifiable per those Health Insurance Rate Authority guidelines, the Health and Human Services Secretary or state regulators could block them.
The plan to pass the bill includes having the House of Representatives pass the Democratic Senate health care reform legislation as well as a second bill containing various “fixes.”
The president will call for an up or down vote on health care reform, as has happened in the past, and though he won’t use the word “reconciliation,” he’ll make it clear that if they’re not given an up or down vote, Democrats will use the reconciliation rules as Republicans have done in the past.
The GOP is preparing for battle, according to Sen. John Thune:
Republicans are preparing to raise points of order and other roadblocks to the healthcare bill, a member of the Senate GOP leadership said Tuesday evening.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the fourth-ranking Senate Republican who serves as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, said the GOP is prepared for a number of scenarios in which they would seek to slow down or halt passage of healthcare legislation once it comes back before the Senate.
“I still think it creates a lot of problems when it comes back to the Senate because there will be lots of points of order that will lie against the bill in the Senate, and obviously, we will, hopefully, have the opportunity to raise some of those,” Thune said of the health bill during an appearance on Fox News.
At issue is the new bill of healthcare legislation changes the House is expected to pass under budget reconciliation rules. Under those rules, the legislation only has to achieve a simple majority in the Senate instead of the 60 normally needed to end a filibuster. Such a maneuver would effectively sidestep Republican opposition to the health bill.
“You know, I don’t want to concede that it’s going to pass for sure yet,” Thune said. “I still think that there’s a lot of clock left in this game.”
The NRCC has gone code red.
Hugh Hewitt says: Let a million amendments bloom.
Steve Ertelt reports that Pelosi is still lying about abortion funding.
Phone/contact list for target House Dems here.
Your handy video flashback of the day via Naked Emperor News/BreibartTV:
CBS Interview 11/2/04
My understanding of the Senate is that you need 60 votes to get something significant to happen, which means that Democrats and Republicans have to ask the question, do we have the will to move an American agenda forward, not a Democratic or Republican agenda forward?
Change to Win Convention 9/25/07
The bottom line is that our healthcare plans are similar, the question once again is, who can get it done? Who can build a movement for change? This is an area where we’re going to have to have a 60% majority in the Senate and the House in order to actually get a bill to my desk. We’re going to have to have a majority to get a bill to my desk. That is not just a fifty plus one majority.
Obama Interview with the Concord Monitor 10/9/07
You’ve got to break out of what I call the sort of fifty plus one pattern of presidential politics. Maybe you eke out a victory of fifty plus one. Then you can’t govern. You know, you get Air Force One, there are a lot of nice perks, but you can’t deliver on healthcare. We are not going to pass universal health care with a fifty plus one strategy.
Center for American Progress Conference 7/12/06
Those big-ticket items: fixing our health care system. You know, one of the arguments that sometimes I get with my fellow progressives, and some of these have flashed up in the blog communities on occasion, is this notion that we should function sort of like Karl Rove where we identify our core base, we throw ’em red meat, we get a fifty plus one victory. See, Karl Rove doesn’t need a broad consensus because he doesn’t believe in government. If we want to transform the country, though, that requires a sizeable majority.
One more terrific reconciliation photoshop from Maksim at The People’s Cube:
Substratum says conservatives must control the narrative on reconciliation. A reminder about Robert Byrd:
Control the narrative on Senate reconciliation and leveraged pressure against wavering House members is yours. Public knowledge of Byrd’s strong feelings against using reconciliation for healthcare as outlined here and here. This knowledge alone kills the meme that reconciliation is a harmless little fuzzy bunny that has been used before by Republicans and therefore it is perfectly acceptable to use it to overhaul 1/6 of the U.S. economy.
Ubiquitous public awareness the architect of Senate reconciliation is against using the procedural tactic to pass ObamaCare will cause vulnerable House members to reach for the Maalox and lose trust in both the process and the end result in terms of the blowback by their constituents and the unceremonious end of said Representative’s political career. Pelosi would find it even harder to garner support for ObamaCare; nobody is willing to fall on a sword for the queen of contempt. In short, House members will be tainted by the Senate procedure.
To state it another way, the Senate procedural maneuver will effectively scare away votes in the House. This will work if the GOP starts talking – and talking a great deal. Wide exposure on Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, talk radio, and in the blogosphere will only aid our cause and the goal to kill ObamaCare for good. There will be an argument that reconciliation will only be used to pass “fixes” to the bill. However, if the bill will not pass without reconciliation, then it is clear that reconciliation is the means by which the entire healthcare system will be overhauled. The argument falls apart and reconciliation is once again front-and-center as the means by which ObamaCare will be passed.
Update 1:54pm Eastern: Obama is on the tee-vee again, with white lab-coated doctor props flanking him on stage again.
Obama claims that “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”
GOP House staffer Michael Steel responds:
If that line sounds familiar, it’s because it was a staple of the President’s rhetoric on health care last year.
We haven’t hear it in a while because it’s not true. Media outlets, including the Associated Press and ABC News debunked the claim thoroughly, noting that even White House officials acknowledged the president’s rhetoric shouldn’t be taken “literally.” Eventually, the White House press office took it out of the President’s speeches.
Why is it coming back now? Does the White House think reporters have forgotten it isn’t true?
2:11pm Eastern. “Make your voice heard,” Obama urges. Unless you’re a member of that Tea Party angry mob. Remember: The White House wants you people to shut up and get out of the way.
WaPo” Defining “nuclear.”
2:46pm Eastern. GOP Sen. McConnell responds to Obama: “I would say to my Democratic colleagues, you ignore the overwhelming desires of the American people at your own peril.” If Demcare gets rammed down Americans’ throats, McConnell says midterms will be a “national referendum” on the issue.