Senate Parliamentarian Rules Obama Must Sign Senate Bill BEFORE Reconciliation

Via Roll Call

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.

This just confirms what I’ve been saying all along: the House vote is the final vote.

Now, will the House Democrats trust the Senate Democrats and Obama? Harry Reid now appears to have a change of heart and will now allow Republicans input and to offer amendments. Reid states:

“Reconciliation is designed to deal with budget-related matters, and some have expressed doubt that it could be used for comprehensive health care reform that includes many policies with no budget implications. But the reconciliation bill now under consideration would not be the vehicle for comprehensive reform — that bill already passed outside of reconciliation with 60 votes,” Reid wrote to McConnell.

“Reconciliation will not exclude Republicans from the legislative process. You will continue to have an opportunity to offer amendments and change the shape of the legislation. In addition, at the end of the process, the bill can pass only if it wins a democratic, up-or-down majority vote. If Republicans want to vote against a bill that reduces health care costs, fills the prescription drug ‘donut hole’ for seniors and reduces the deficit, you will have every right to do so,” he said.

Obviously, Republicans would have to be a part of the legislative process; however, does anyone actually think that a single GOP amendment would really be passed to amend the bill. Furthermore, for Reid to say “a democratic, up-or-down majority vote” is simply disingenuous. Reid knows that he does indeed 60 votes to pass amendments and he is circumventing the GOP filibuster to make any further changes.

That is the bait for the House Democrats–to use the up-or-down vote, which requires only 51 votes to pass the ObamaCare bill changes. The House Democrats must trust that the Senate Democrats will hold true to their word. They also have to make certain that Obama will sign the amended legislation.

As for Obama’s track record of broken promises and bait and switch, I’d go over to Change.gov for a serious reminder of what health reform should look like and what he originally promised voters.

Crossposted at Big Government