What The Hell is Reconciliation?

What the hell is reconciliation? What does it have to do with the budget? Health care, Cap and trade, deficits? ITS ALL SO CONFUSING!

Which is why I have a blog. That’s awesome. And full of information.

I know that the reconciliation discussion is getting a bit hard to follow. The quick version is that reconciliation is a complicated budget process that could pass health reform with 50 votes. It short-circuits the filibuster. But to be used, reconciliation “instructions” must appear in the budget. They don’t exist in the Senate budget. They do exist in the House budget. The question is what happens when the Senate and House meet to iron out their differences. After talking to various Hill sources today, there appear to be three serious possibilities:

  • Straight-Up Reconciliation: Senate Democrats bow to the preferences of House Democrats and simply import the reconciliation instructions from their budget. Senate Republicans flee the process but are no longer needed anyway. The trick becomes where Harry Reid can hold his own caucus and fend off parliamentary challenges from Republicans (more on those here).
  • Time Bomb Reconciliation: Senate Democrats and House Democrats agree on a new set of reconciliation instructions. Under this scenario, the budget only activates the reconciliation process in the event that there’s no bill by the fall. Reconciliation then acts as an enforcer on the legislative time frame: If the two parties can’t come to agreement by September or so, the reconciliation process activates and Republicans are essentially locked out.
  • Back Pocket Reconciliation: Reconciliation is purged from the budget but the chairman of both budget committees essentially signal that if the normal process breaks down, they will pass budget revisions that include reconciliation instruction. Such revisions would only require 50 votes and 10 hours of floor debate.

If you’d like a more detailed version click here to read Ezra Klein’s detailed explanation about the reconciliation process and why it’s important. It’s Teh Awesome

You’re welcome

NOTE: If you think that the debate about reconciliation is unimportant think again. Now that the budget has passed in both the House and the Senate, the big debate in Congress right now is whether or not to use reconciliation to prevent a fillibuster on either Healthcare or Cap and Trade. Pretty big policies right there.


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