Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday underlined her commitment to using a controversial budgeting tactic to ease passage of major health care reform this year.
I believe it is absolutely essential that we come out of this year with substantial health care reform legislation, Pelosi said, adding that the best prospect for that to happen is under reconciliation.
The process would have little impact in the House but would significantly lower the hurdle in the Senate by allowing the measure to pass by a simple majority rather than the 60 typically required under regular order. Many Democrats have suggested that through reconciliation, the majority can ensure passage of big-ticket items like health care reform and climate change proposals.
But other Democrats, including influential Senators like Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (N.D.) and Finance Chairman Max Baucus (Mont.), have argued against using reconciliation, fearing it will spur partisan acrimony. Pelosi noted that Republicans had no problem relying on the procedural trick to fast-track tax cuts for wealthy Americans in 2001 and 2003. And she suggested the procedure would produce a better bill.
In the House of Representatives, it is generally believed that we want the strongest possible package to have the healthiest possible America, she said.
On January 3, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., raises her right hand as her son Henry messes up her hair while Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., delivers the ceremonial swearing-in in the Old Senate Chamber. Gillibrand's other son Theodore, lower right, looks on.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.