Hoyer Dismisses Reconciliation for Climate Change

Posted March 24, 2009 at 12:52pm

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday ruled out the idea of using fast-track budget rules to advance climate change legislation, but he left open the possibility that budget reconciliation may be used to advance health care reform.

“The answer is no— on using budget rules to bypass Senate filibusters to impose a cap on carbon emissions, Hoyer said. “On that issue of how you get there, [it] will not be assumed by the budget. … Obviously we need to get there, but how we get there will have to be debated by the authorizing committees and the proposals made and adopted by the Congress.—

He noted that one issue “under discussion— is using budget reconciliation rules to protect health care legislation from a Senate filibuster. Under those rules, just 51 votes are needed to pass legislation in the Senate, rather than the 60 votes typically to avert a filibuster. The House Budget Committee is marking up the budget on Wednesday.

Some Democrats, including Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (S.D.), have dismissed trying to fast-track the budget. And Senate Republicans are already warning against using reconciliation to move health care overhaul legislation. During a Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Tuesday, they warned that doing so would backfire.

“If Congress cuts corners, rushes the process and shuts out good ideas, we’ll end up with a failed project that will waste a lot of time and money,— HELP ranking member Mike Enzi (Wyo.) said.

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), also a HELP member, agreed. If Democrats use reconciliation, he said, they are “sending a clear signal that they are not interested in a truly bipartisan effort.—

Stephen Langel contributed to this report.