If you’ve been paying attention to what’s going on in Washington recently, you’ve probably heard the word “reconciliation”. What is it? It’s a legislative process intended to allow a budget bill to be considered without filibuster. In the Senate, it restricts debate to 20 hours and amendments are limited. Without the option of filibuster, a bill in the Senate would only require 51 votes to pass. A super majority of 60 votes is required to end a filibuster to move legislation normally.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about the Democrats trying to use the reconciliation process to pass a health care bill and maybe even cap-and-trade in the Senate with the budget. According to the Washington Post, the Senate version of the budget does not include reconciliation but the House version does. If both the House and the Senate pass their bills, then the two groups have to meet in conference to make the bills uniform, then they go back for a vote without amendments. The conferees could add reconciliation to the final version of the bill that would see a vote in the Senate and require only 51 votes to pass.
In just a few days we could see mandated national health insurance become law through the budget. Check out this page to see which Democratic Senators might vote against more government intervention in our health care.