Fight in the Senate Starts Before House Finishes Vote

Posted: Mar 21, 2010 6:09 PM
With the House still debating the merits of the Senate bill, the fight over reconciliation is already heating up in the Senate.

As Carol noted, Senate Republicans believe they have a justified battle brewing over procedure, and that they may be able to get the whole package of reconciliation "fix-its" thrown out with a trump card procedural motion.  The GOP is accusing Democrats of avoiding the issue, buying time while the House wraps up its debate and votes on the Senate bill.   

If the House votes to pass the Senate bill and the Republicans manage to block the Democrats' fixes, the Senate bill will be the law of the land.  And since many House members' votes depend on the approval of the fixes, it's vital the GOP act quickly. 

The GOP is saying Democrats are purposefully stalling and won't sit down for a meeting with them and the parliamentarian.  ABC News reports:
Don’t expect the health reform debate to end tonight even though the health reform bill will become law as soon as Obama signs the Senate bill.

Should the House pass the Senate bill and the package of reconciliation fix-its tonight, Senators will take over the reconciliation fix-its as soon as Tuesday.

That will set in motion a week or longer parliamentary floor battle with points of order, references to the budget act, the Byrd Rule and more...

If Republicans can get the parliamentarian to agree with them even once, whatever ultimately passes the Senate will have to go back to the House.  And Democrats in the House quietly admit that its very likely they will have to vote again on the reconciliation fixes at some point down the road.