Liberals Ready to Launch Health Care Nuclear Option

| by Heritage Foundation

By Brian Darling

The Health Care Nuclear Option, also known as reconciliation, is being considered by liberal politicians to insure that Obamacare makes it to the President’s desk by Easter.  According to The New York Times, the plan is to have the President submit reconciliation legislation to be posted on the internet this weekend. The legislation will be crafted in a manner so that it can be passed using special reconciliation procedures created solely to enact laws to reduce the deficit as part of the annual budget.  The next step is for the President to conduct his half day bipartisan summit at the Blair House on February 25th. With that faux-bipartisan stunt over with, the President will be free to pass legislation in a partisan manner that tosses aside the regular rules of business in the Senate.

Here is how The NYT writes it up:

President Obama will put forward comprehensive health care legislation intended to bridge differences between Senate and House Democrats ahead of a summit meeting with Republicans next week, senior administration officials and Congressional aides said Thursday.

The legislation is being crafted in a way to allow for partisans in the House and Senate to pass the legislation without any support from Republicans and it a way that avoids a 60 vote threshold of a filibuster in the Senate.

Democratic officials said the president’s proposal was being written so that it could be attached to a budget bill as a way of averting a Republican filibuster in the Senate. The procedure, known as budget reconciliation, would let Democrats advance the bill with a simple majority rather than a 60-vote supermajority.

Yet again, the Obama Administration has tossed aside transparency and has crafted this legislation behind closed doors. Not even all Congressional Democrats have been looped into this secret proposal:

During a conference call on Wednesday night, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, told the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, and the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, that she could not agree to a proposal until rank-and-file lawmakers returned from a weeklong recess. A House Democratic caucus meeting is set for Monday evening. … Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said the president would “take some of the best ideas” from the House and the Senate and “put them into a framework.”

The plan is for the House would pass the Senate version of Obamacare and use the special reconciliation process as a means to amend it. This special procedure is clearly an abuse of the reconciliation procedure and helps liberals to toss aside the filibuster in the Senate.  As Charlotte Davis explained earlier:

Reconciliation was not intended to be the procedure of last resort when other means fail, and to do so would be a complete abuse of reconciliation rules.   Some may bring up other examples of massive legislation passed through reconciliation bills as proof that using reconciliation bills to explode government spending is okay, but past instances of wrongdoing does not make it acceptable to add $2 trillion dollars worth of health care spending.

This is also a means to empower Vice President Joe Biden to act as President of the Senate during this debate so that he can ignore Republicans who will be outraged by the process.  The election of Scott Brown to the Senate in liberal Massachusetts was a strong referendum against Obamacare.  Add that to the polling that indicates that a large majority of Americans are opposed to the President’s health care proposal (see Real Clear Politics) and one can understand why Congress was backing away from the proposal.

But The New York Times article indicates that the Obama Administration and liberal Members of Congress are willing to use the Nuclear Option to get the unpopular bill through the House and Senate.