Tales from the Trail

Healthcare reconciliation: easier said than explained

March 1, 2010

The process intricacies that go into lawmaking can stump the hardiest of congressional watchers.

Now that Democrats may decide to use reconciliation to get healthcare legislation passed in Congress, everyone has been scrambling for the easiest possible explanation. OBAMA/

What we found were lots of words and several reports aimed at explaining the process that everyone’s talking about, but no one-line, easy-to-understand, explain-it-to-your-grandmother, definition.

A bare bones, no-frills explanation is that it’s a way to try and pass legislation without needing the 60 votes to overcome yet other procedural hurdles.

My colleague John Whitesides did a step-by-step explanation of the healthcare reconciliation process, to read click here.

A column by Ezra Klein on washingtonpost.com offers “A reconciliation primer” with links to a Congressional Research Service report and an explanation of the Byrd rule.

The New York Times “Prescriptions” blog tried to make reconciliation more interesting by telling readers to think of it as an “evening out.”

And NPR has an interview with Robert Dove who helped write the law that contains the “filibuster-busting provision called reconciliation,” and as former Senate parliamentarian presided over such maneuvers.

While Democrats  appear to be headed in this direction on healthcare, don’t expect it to be the kind of reconciliation that will bring peace with the Republicans.

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Photo credit: Reuters/Molly Riley (U.S. Capitol)

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