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Pelosi Calls Fast-Track Budget Rules Essential

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.

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