DEM MODERATES TIRE OF GOP TACTICS…. It’s going to be difficult to pass health care reform in either chamber, but the trick in the Senate has been generating enough support for reconciliation. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced that he intends to use the procedure — that only makes sense, the procedure exists for a situation like this — but the question is whether his caucus would be comfortable with it.
The answer has been far from clear. Republicans have tried to characterize reconciliation as some kind of “abuse” or “trick,” despite the GOP’s repeated use of the same procedure when there was a Republican majority. Dems, already nervous, were intimidated by the GOP rhetoric.
Or, at least, they were. At this point, even center-right Democrats are so fed up with Republicans’ obstructionist game that their reconciliation reluctance is fading.
“Obviously, if the minority is just frustrating the process, that argues for taking steps to get the public’s business done,” said Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), who was one of the leading voices against the procedure after the Massachusetts election, calling it “very ill-advised.” […]
Bayh’s remarks Tuesday came a day after Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) cited Republican obstructionism as a reason why she could embrace the parliamentary maneuver to pass health care reform. Last month, she said she was leaning against reconciliation.
“I’m staying open to see how these negotiations go forward,” Landrieu said. “I’ve not generally been a big supporter, but the Republican Party, the leadership, has really been very, very, very disingenuous in this process.”
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said he doesn’t prefer reconciliation, but it may be the only way.
“I’d like to see as many votes as possible,” he said. “But at the end of the day, with the obstructionism going on at the level that it is, I’m more interested in what’s in the package than I am in the process of how many votes it takes to get it through.”
Remarks like these obviously aren’t guarantees, but Reid only needs 51 votes, and if the likes of Bayh, Landrieu, and even Nelson are warming to the common-sense rationale for reconciliation, it’s an encouraging development.
What’s more, as Jonathan Cohn noted today, when Senate Dems signal their support for using reconciliation, they “also embolden those House Democrats who fear the bill won’t play well in conservative districts or don’t trust the Senate to do its part.”