Reconciliation stays on the table

RECONCILIATION STAYS ON THE TABLE…. The day after President Obama announced his plan to host a bipartisan support on health care reform, House Republican leaders wrote a letter to the White House, asking that the reconciliation process be taken off the table as a “show of good faith” to the GOP.

The request probably generated some laughter among Democratic leaders. In effect, Boehner and Cantor said they’d be more willing to talk about health care reform if the president agrees in advance to give Republicans the opportunity to kill health care reform.

Roll Call reports today that reconciliation will, thankfully, remain on the table.

Senate Democrats say they see no need to abandon the idea of using reconciliation to pass health care reform this year just because President Barack Obama has scheduled a bipartisan summit next week to try to break the impasse on Capitol Hill. […]

Given the unified GOP opposition to their health care effort, Senate Democrats argued just before departing for the Presidents Day recess that Obama’s summit is no reason to shelve reconciliation as a potential strategy.

The piece reports that Democratic Senate staffers “continue to explore a reconciliation bill.” Delaware Sen. Tom Carper (D), a moderate, has been reluctant to embrace reconciliation, but is now open to the idea.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) added reconciliation should be “constantly pursued.”

Next week’s summit may put things in a clearer focus in this regard. If, as expected, GOP lawmakers refuse to make any concessions and demand complete failure, it should serve as a reminder to Senate Democrats that bipartisanship is impossible with this Republican Party and that reconciliation is the only available way forward.

Update: Also today, some Democratic senators voiced support for using reconciliation to approve a reform bill with a public option. That’s probably a long-shot, but some are still working hard to keep it in the larger conversation.