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We knew it was coming.
It's been a threat hanging out there since last spring.
But now it's official.
Reconciliation, aka "a simple up or down vote" according to those trying to hide their real intentions from a critical public (who oppose reconciliation), is on the way to pass sweeping health care legislation (when 63% of voters want to see a smaller bill that addresses individual problems) by avoiding a Republican filibuster.
For those confused by this Senate procedure, here's how things are going to progress:
Sen. Tom Harkin told POLITICO that Senate Democratic leaders have decided to go the reconciliation route. The House, he said, will first pass the Senate bill after Senate leaders demonstrate to House leaders that they have the votes to pass reconciliation in the Senate.
... When asked whether the leaders had made the decision, Durbin said: "We are moving ahead with a version of the health care reform bill that we believe has a good chance of passing both the House and the Senate."
He then put the onus on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to signal whether she can provide enough votes to pass the Senate bill, followed by a package of fixes through reconciliation.
"The first step is with Speaker Pelosi and so I will let her decide what it takes in the House," Durbin said.
Reconciliation "has always been an option. But she has to make her own decision on what it takes to enact this in the House," he added.
Durbin said Democrats are "coming to closure" on legislative language to send to the Congressional Budget Office for a cost estimate -- a step that can take weeks. "It has not been sent yet, but we are hoping it can be sent soon."
Over at RedState.com, the Heritage Foundation's Brian Darling goes into reconciliation in more detail. It is a must read for anyone following this fight.
There are three reasons why this perversion of reconciliation is unprecedented and wrong. First, the liberals failed to pass ObamaCare through the regular order when they had huge majorities, therefore they need to change the rules of the game to pass ObamaCare. Also, the leadership in Congress is attempting to use a reconciliation measure to amend a bill that has yet to be signed into law. The plan is for the House to pass the Senate passed version of ObamaCare, then to pass the reconciliation measure to avoid a filibuster in the Senate. Finally, the bill is unpopular, yet the majority party needs to restrict the rights of the minority party to make sure the minority party does not use procedural rights to uphold the will of a majority of Americans who hate ObamaCare.
Read the rest of the article to learn more.
We know a few things:Obama, Pelosi, and Reid want this done before the Easter recess so that legislators don't have to face their constituents at town halls again like in August. Easter recess starts on March 28 for the House and Senate. Also, it takes some time to get bill particulars, CBO scores, and vote whipping together. So this isn't going to happen tomorrow.
That means there is no reason to give up hope - far from it when we have good policy and a majority of Americans on our side. Besides, we've kept up this fight so long, when no one thought it was stoppable, that we're hardly going to give up now.
We need to make all our hard work this past year worth it. If you have never visited your legislators' district office, this is the time to do it. If you have never organized sit-in, or a candle light vigil, or just a protest outside their offices - this is your moment. If you have already been doing all that - thank you. We need our numbers to swell so use this opportunity to recruit and engage others.
We have not yet begun to fight.