ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf reports: The House bill has not yet passed and already we are seeing the reconciliation fight start in the Senate.
Senate Republicans say they can get the whole package of reconciliation fixes – the fix-its that make the Senate plan palatable to House Democrats - thrown out with a trump card procedural motion. And they say Democrats are slow-walking a decision from the parliamentarian until the House passes the Senate bill.
That means the Senate bill, which everyone in the House seems to universally hate, will be the law of the land.
This afternoon Senate Republicans say Democrats won’t meet with them and the parliamentarian – a charge Democratic staffers call “absurd”. (The timing of the allegation also works as a last-minute, probably too-late message to wavering House Democrats). Bottom line: 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.
For an appetizer, take a look at Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Judd Gregg’s statement tonight.
“Immediately after receiving the final reconciliation bill language, Senate Republican staff was ready and willing to meet with Senate Democratic staff and the Senate Parliamentarian to discuss the fact that the House reconciliation bill may be brought down by the 310(g) point of order in the Senate. Senate Democrats are mysteriously unavailable until after the House votes on the health care bill tonight. The Senate Democrats appear to be pushing off this meeting so that House Democrats will remain in the dark about what is likely to happen to the reconciliation bill on which many have staked their careers in Congress. House Democrats should be alarmed by this latest development, since the survival of the reconciliation bill is clearly at risk in the Senate.”
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.