The current House budget bill contains legislation that would apply reconciliation to the issues of cap-and-trade and health care. The Senate budget bill has no such provision, but when the House and Senate bills are combined for final passage, the Senate will negotiate the final version in a Committee meeting, behind closed doors. Senate Democrats have expressed openness to including reconciliation in the bill, meaning that the possibility of including the measure is real. There's no way for the minority to fight it.
Eight Senate Democrats signed a letter opposing the use of reconciliation for policy issues in addition to financial issues. From Senator Kent Conrad, (D-Neb.): “I have said publicly and privately what I believe. I don't believe reconciliation was ever intended for the purpose of writing this kind of substantive reform legislation such as health care reform, such as climate change.”
Sen. Byrd, one of the authors of the reconciliation amendment, told the Post: "I am certain that putting health-care reform and climate change legislation on a freight train through Congress is an outrage that must be resisted.”
Brian Darling, director of Senate relations at the Heritage Foundation, speculates that Congress may have reached a "breaking point" where reconciliation is viewed as simply another parliamentary procedure.
But that's not the way it should be. The point of the American system is that not everyone agrees on policy, including cap-and-trade and health care. What is vitally important to some may not be vitally important to all, and the Senate supermajority ensures that enough people are in agreement for a proposal to become public law.
Eliminating this supermajority when such crucial legislation as climate change and cap-and-trade are at stake is worse than a simply cheap shot by the majority party. It's worse than changing the rules after the game has already begun.
Eliminating the supermajority is tyranny of the majority in the worst way. It makes a mockery of the way legislation is debated and voted upon in a Democratic society, and is a threat to the system of governance that has made America the leader of the free world.
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