Will Reconciliation Ever Happen? It Seems Unlikely.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for Obamacare is the very legitimate fear of Democrats in the House that Senate Democrats won’t pass a “fix” of the bill through reconciliation.

First of all, here’s how Democrats in the House want the process to work: They pass the bill already voted through in the Senate. Then Senate Democrats make the bill more palatable to liberals in the House by making a series of “fixes” via reconciliation.

Here’s the thing: It’s becoming more and more clear that step 2 will probably never happen. Why?

#1) Once the House passes the bill that the Democrats in the Senate wanted in the first place, it can be signed into law. So, if the Senate did nothing, the ideal bill, from the perspective of Democratic senators, would pass.

#2) Getting — and maintaining — the votes for reconciliation is an iffy process. At the moment, the Dems don’t appear to have the votes and even if they get them, it would only take a defection or two to kill it. Given that this is an election year and passing health care via reconciliation is not going to be popular with the public, it’s going to be very difficult for Harry Reid to keep Senate Democrats in line.

#3) Republicans in the Senate will fight reconciliation with every procedural trick in the book and they could conceivably draw the fight out for weeks or perhaps even months. If, let’s say, an attempt at reconciliation is about to roll over into May, would Senate Democrats stick with it or figure that they should be happy with the bill they’ve already got?

#4) Does anybody believe that Obama would refuse to sign the bill unless it was “fixed” by reconciliation? Anybody? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Long story short, the moment Democrats in the House approve the bill that has already passed the Senate, all their leverage is gone. So do they sign onto a Senate bill that they don’t like, that contains the Cornhusker Kickback and Louisiana Purchase, even though they know that the odds are against it being changed via reconciliation? Time will tell…

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