Late this afternoon, it was reported by the New York Daily News that Nancy Pelosi is set to announce that the House is going to use the Reconciliation Process to try and pass health care reform. The Reconciliation Process only requires a simple majority to pass a bill. In terms of the Senate, the critical ability of the Senate to filibuster is gone, and only 51 votes would be needed to pass the bill.
The Reconciliation Process is complex and difficult to navigate. Very basically, each of the committees with jurisdiction over Healthcare would need to pass bills, and then the House Budget Committee would merge these into a reconciliation bill and report it to the House floor – needing 218 votes to pass.
Similarly, in the Senate, the Finance and HELP committees would need to report bills that the Budget committee would meld together and then report that product to the Senate floor. Only 51 votes would be needed to begin consideration of it. Debate is limited to 20 hours. Amendments are unlimited but must be germane to the bill.
As long as the bill has been drafted not to violate the budget resolution the Senate can pass the bill with a simple majority. This rule is very difficult to adhere to and would eliminate huge and key elements present in the current reform bills. After the Senate passes their reconciliation bill, they work out differences with the House, if any.
If the reports are true, then we can fully expect a bill – one potentially wrought with rationing concerns. President Obama, speaking to ABC news last night said, “We know that we have to have some form of cost containment because if we don't then our budgets are going to blow up." It is precisely these cost-containment measures that raise rationing concerns. Continue checking back often, since health reform is far from dead.