Joe Biden and Reconciliation

MSNBC says we may all be overestimating the power the Senate parliamentarian has over the reconciliation process.

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For those unable to watch the video just yet, here's MSNBC's write up:

"The parliamentarian only can advise," [former Senate parliamentarian of 37 years Robert] Dove said. "It is the vice president who rules."

It is widely understood that the parliamentarian would rule whether or not items under reconciliation are germaine to the budget. It wasn't always the case that items under reconciliation had to pertain to the budget. But it had been used so often to defeat filibusters, Dove said, that in the 1980s Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) instituted a the budget rule. It is now known as the Byrd Rule. The parliamentarian currently is Alan Frumin. Not since Hubert Humphrey, Dove said, has there been a vice president played such a powerful role. But as NBC's Chuck Todd, who co-hosts the show, pointed out, perhaps not since Humphrey has the U.S. seen a vice president as comfortable with the rules of the Senate as Biden.

"That's why I brought this up," Dove said. "Yes. Humphrey had been the majority whip. He had been in the Senate since 1948. He felt very comfortable playing an important role. And it's quite possible that Vice President Biden [would]."

It is still unclear the lengths to which Vice President Joe Biden, or the Obama administration more broadly, are willing to go to ensure the passage of healthcare reform legislation. But considering that they may have the ability to ensure that a reconciliation "fix" to the bill already passed through the Senate and on its way to the House -- where, by the way, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is confident she has the votes -- healthcare reform may be more viable than we previously believed.

Tags: healthcare reform, Senate, Reconciliation, joe biden, Obama Administration (all tags)



If MyDD were like Washington

Charles Lemos would be the house

Armstrong would be the senate

And Jon Singer would be the Supreme Court

by Trey Rentz 2010-03-01 02:14PM | 0 recs
In the Bizzaro Universe Maybe!

In that imaginary Bizarro world where everything is the polar opposite of the way it is in the real world, Joe Biden would be willing to overrule the Senate Parlimentarian to push HCR through via reconciliation.

In the REAL world, cowardly Democrats would all faint and soil themselves, the media would scream about a "shocking degree of partisanship" and Republicans would "declare war" and prophesy "the end of the Senate".

Personally, I think the "end of the Senate" would be a GOOD thing, but sadly it's not going to happen.

You just can't expect the members of the world's most exclusive millionaires club to don Che Guevera t-shirts and start actually doing things the right-wing and their corporate masters hate. That would be "too partisan."

ERGO: This is all blather. Nothing is going to happen. Biden will at most whine publicly about the "obstructionism" of the Republicans.

You just saw that 59 Democrats couldn't even break the filibuster of ONE LONE Senator, crazy Jim Bunning -- despite promising to do just that. They gave up and surrendered instead of forcing him to stay up and hold the floor over the weekend while everybody else went home.

Democrats are just utterly pathetic weaklings who always surrender their lunch money at the first sign of Republican demands.

by Cugel 2010-03-01 03:11PM | 0 recs

I could swear I've had this very argument many times here at this site.  The parliamentarian has no official role in the budget process.  There is no necessity for the Democrats to find 60 or 67 votes to overturn an adverse ruling from the parliamentarian or anything like that.  Rather, the official ruling is made by the presiding officer of the Senate, who is the Vice-President or another D.  If the presiding officer doesn't want to bother consulting with the parliamentarian, the only fallout is political.

by Steve M 2010-03-01 05:41PM | 0 recs


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