The Day Health Care Reform Finally Died?

Simply put, if this holds up, I think health care reform just died:

The Senate Parliamentarian has ruled that President Barack Obama must sign Congress’ original health care reform bill before the Senate can act on a companion reconciliation package, senior GOP sources said Thursday.

The Senate Parliamentarian’s Office was responding to questions posed by the Republican leadership. The answers were provided verbally, sources said.

House Democratic leaders have been searching for a way to ensure that any move they make to approve the Senate-passed $871 billion health care reform bill is followed by Senate action on a reconciliation package of adjustments to the original bill. One idea is to have the House and Senate act on reconciliation prior to House action on the Senate’s original health care bill.

Information Republicans say they have received from the Senate Parliamentarian’s Office eliminates that option. House Democratic leaders last week began looking at crafting a legislative rule that would allow the House to approve the Senate health care bill, but not forward it to Obama for his signature until the Senate clears the reconciliation package.

If this turns out to be the case, it puts the Democrats in the House in an untenable position. They would have to pass the original Senate bill, which they don’t like at all, and then they’d have to simply trust the Democrats in the Senate to “fix it” via reconciliation.

As I’ve explained before, reconciliation is probably not going to happen and the House Democrats know that, too. So, are they going to jump off a cliff and “trust” Harry Reid to catch them via reconciliation? Not a chance. Either the Democrats will have to find a way around this or health care reform looks to be dead as a doornail.

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