Aug. 2, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

GOP Girding for Battle Over Reconciliation

The president is scheduled to announce on Wednesday his next moves for health care reform, and reconciliation is expected to be a part of the mix. However, Congressional Democrats — perhaps preparing a messaging war of their own — are now shying away from the term reconciliation, instead referring it as a “majority vote” strategy.

Like the White House, Senate Democrats appear to be warming to the 51-vote strategy as well. Reconciliation has been used nearly two dozen times since it was created in the early 1970s. In most instances, it was used when there was divided government. The past few times the procedure was used, Republicans ran both the White House and one chamber of Congress.

“I think my boss said it best,” Reid spokesman Rodell Mollineau said. “Republicans need to stop crying about using a procedure that they have embraced many times before. For them to suggest otherwise would be duplicitous.”

Knowledgeable Senate Democratic aides have warned for weeks of the difficulty of drafting a complex health care reform bill under reconciliation rules. The challenge is to construct legislation that can satisfy Democrats, withstand Republican resistance and pass muster with the Senate Parliamentarian.

Meanwhile, Republicans are relying on these challenges to cause the Democrats fits.

One of the reconciliation procedure’s rules, which is named for Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), requires legislation that moves under the procedure to have a budgetary impact. The GOP plans to raise a point of order on aspects of the bill that it believes violate the Byrd rule — regardless of the policy.

The most likely reconciliation strategy for Congressional Democrats is to have the House pass the $871 billion health care reform bill approved by the Senate on Christmas Eve and then pass a companion bill with the changes desired by House Democrats. Republicans are convinced that this is a political winner for them, even if they fail to block the majority from getting a bill to Obama’s desk.

“This is win-win for Republicans. Even if the bill passes, Republicans will have weeks to stoke up public outrage,” a GOP lobbyist said.

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