Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Senate Says To The House "Trust Me"

Yeah don't ever trust someone when they say, "Trust Me" - especially if you are talking about Sen. Harry Reid or Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.

Here is the deal (according to this report by Reuters):
The House and Senate passed separate healthcare reform bills last year, but efforts to merge them into a final product collapsed in January when Democrats lost their crucial 60th vote in a special Senate election in Massachusetts.

Democrats now hope to approve the final legislation in a two-step process. House Democrats would approve the Senate's version of the bill and the two chambers would pass a separate measure making changes to the Senate bill sought by Obama and House Democrats.

The second bill would be passed using a process called reconciliation requiring only a simple majority in the 100-member Senate, bypassing the need for 60 votes to overcome Republican procedural hurdles.

Senate and House leaders are still putting the second bill together and awaiting cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, a process that could slip into next week.


Republicans warned House Democrats not to count on the Senate to pass the second bill.

Why this is important is because there is something called the Byrd rule which allows the minority party to bring up any new language in the reconciliation phase and challenge it on a point of order.
In 1985 and 1986, the Senate adopted the Byrd rule (named after its principal sponsor, Senator Robert C. Byrd) on a temporary basis as a means of curbing these practices. The Byrd rule has been extended and modified several times over the years. In 1990, the Byrd rule was incorporated into the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 as Section 313 and made permanent (2 U.S.C. 644).

A Senator opposed to the inclusion of extraneous matter in reconciliation legislation may offer an amendment (or a motion to recommit the measure with instructions) that strikes such provisions from the legislation, or, under the Byrd rule, a Senator may raise a point of order against such matter. In general, a point of order authorized under the Byrd rule may be raised in order to strike extraneous matter already in the bill as reported or discharged (or in the conference report), or to prevent the incorporation of extraneous matter through the adoption of amendments or motions. A motion to waive the Byrd rule, or to sustain an appeal of the ruling of the chair on a point of order raised under the Byrd rule, requires the affirmative vote of three-fifths of the membership (60 Senators if no seats are vacant).

The Byrd rule provides six definitions of what constitutes extraneous matter for purposes of the rule (and several exceptions thereto), but the term is generally described as covering provisions unrelated to achieving the goals of the reconciliation instructions.
So anything, any kind of language or "deal" cooked up in the House to make it more palatable to Democrats on the fence will most likely be struck down in the Senate as being extraneous as a result of the Byrd rule during reconciliation. Hence, they will NOT get those items promised to House Democrats passed! And so the House Democrats can't really trust that their "deals" will survive reconciliation.

They may end up getting screwed by their own party and their President who would be more than gleeful in signing the bill into law without those deals intact. (i.e. taxpayer funded abortion)

"House Democrats will have to decide whether they want to trust the Senate to fix their political problems," Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said.

If Democrat Congressmen (who do not like the bill as it is now) had any brains at all, they will not trust the Senate to fix this bill for them "later", and should just vote this whole mess down in the House, NOW!

Please people, let's not take her word on it....

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