As the Senate begins debate over the reconciliation bill that will improve the health bill, I feel compelled to point out that as a TAPPED reader, you probably saw this coming. Back on July 29 of last year, when progressives were getting impatient with the dead-end negotiations with Republicans on the Finance Committee, and pushing to use the budget reconciliation process to pass a reform with 50 votes, I pointed out the limitations to that approach, and suggested an alternative:
Some have suggested using reconciliation to install the rough skeleton of reform, and then fixing it later. ... But what if Congress did it in reverse? Use the 60-vote Senate to pass whatever they can pass now -- we liberals will grumble but live with it -- and then use reconciliation next year to fix it.
I'm sure I wasn't the first person to think of this option, although I hadn't heard about it. Some of the sharper strategists on the Hill had this approach in their back pocket for many months, and good for them for not revealing the card until they were ready to use it.
This reconciliation won't improve the bill quite as much as I had thought possible eight months ago. But it may not be the last. With the basic framework in place, further improvements are unlikely to face the same 60-vote barrier that constrained the first bill.
-- Mark Schmitt
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