A WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE…. In Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-Utah) borderline-pathological op-ed yesterday, he made a variety of ridiculous claims, but this one about reconciliation continues to be of interest.
Reconciliation was designed to balance the federal budget. Both parties have used the process, but only when the bills in question stuck close to dealing with the budget. In instances in which other substantive legislation was included, the legislation had significant bipartisan support.
Now, on its face, that seems rather odd. Reconciliation has been used for non-budgetary matters, Hatch argued, but only when the legislation enjoyed “significant” bipartisan support. But if the bills had “significant” bipartisan support, why couldn’t they be passed through regular order? Why bother with limiting votes to majority rule if there’s already plenty of support?
Among the odder arguments Republicans are making against the reconciliation process is that the process should only be used for bipartisan bills, and since they refuse to vote for health-care reform, Democrats can’t give their package of fixes an up-or-down vote.
But reconciliation hasn’t been limited to bipartisan bills. Here’s the recent record: The 1995 Balanced Budget Act was passed in reconciliation. The final vote was 52 to 47. The 2001 Bush Tax Cut was passed in reconciliation. The final vote was 58 to 33. The 2003 Bush Tax Cut was passed in reconciliation. The final vote was 50 to 50, with Dick Cheney casting the tie-breaking vote. The 2005 Deficit Reduction Act was also passed in reconciliation with a 50 to 50 vote and a Cheney intervention. The 2006 Tax Relief Extensions Act was passed in reconciliation. The final vote was 54 to 44.
After reading this, I tried to think of a single Republican talking point related to the health care reform debate that was accurate and fair. I honestly couldn’t think of one.