(S.Con. Res. 13) Health care reform - - on instructing House Members, who will be negotiating a final version of the fiscal year 2010 budget resolution with the Senate, not to include any language that would prevent a Senate filibuster of separate health care legislation
If a budget resolution includes a procedure called “reconciliation”, the Senate is able to consider certain legislation to which the procedure applies without the ability of any senator to filibuster that legislation. The budget resolution that had passed the House applied the reconciliation procedure to health care and certain other issues. The budget resolution that had passed the Senate did not have any reconciliation language. This was a vote on a motion to instruct the House Members, who would be negotiating the final budget resolution with the Senate, not to include the reconciliation procedure in that resolution.
Rep. Ryan (R-WI), who offered the motion, argued that the Democratic majority-sponsored budget that the House had passed “exploits the current financial crisis to rush through a sweeping expansion of the Federal Government.” He said that the issues of health care would be covered by the reconciliation procedure. Ryan said that the reconciliation instructions in the budget resolution “allow for the Senate to consider certain measures without the possibility of a filibuster . . . In other words, it's a way for Congress to sweep . . . legislation through with very little debate, no amendments, get it into law without the public seeing what is happening.”
He explained that the aim of his motion was to ensure that the budget resolution “doesn't trigger a fast-track process, otherwise known as budget reconciliation, to jam through a government takeover of health care . . . . Ryan went on to say “if we're going to have a debate about having a brand-new energy tax, if we're going to have a debate about tax increases and spending increases doubling and tripling our national debt, let's have that debate. Let's not just sweep the thing through.”
Rep. Spratt (D-SC), chairman of the House Budget Committee, responded to Ryan by arguing that not having reconciliation apply to health care reform would effectively prevent any such reform from being enacted. Rep. Schwartz (D-PA) supported Spratt and argued: “(T)he American people did call on us to take action on this these critical issues. . . That is what this budget does. . . That is what we want to do. We would like to do it in a bipartisan way.” But Schwartz then added that she opposed the motion to drop reconciliation because working on these issues in a bipartisan way “may not be possible”.
The vote on the motion was 196-227. All one hundred and seventy-three Republicans and twenty-three of the Democrats voted “aye”. All 227 “nay” votes were cast by Democrats. As a result, the House budget conferees were permitted to allow language to be included in the final resolution allowing the Senate to consider health care reform without the possibility of a filibuster.