On a bloggers conference call this afternoon Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah expressed his concern that Democratic leadership will manipulate parliamentary procedure and try to push through a smaller version of the health care bill through parliamentary rule manipulation and reconciliation.
Reconciliation has never been used to pass social legislation that did not have massive bi-partisan support. Of the nineteen times reconciliation has been successfully used since 1974, only three were for social legislation. These were: welfare reform, SCHIP, and college tuition. These three proposals were passed with at least 78 votes. Welfare reform had 78 votes. SCHIP had 85, and college tuition had about 78.
Republicans have repeatedly referenced Democratic Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, author of the budget reconciliation process, as someone who has stood against using the parliamentary procedure to pass the massive health care bill in the Senate. Today, however, Mr. Byrd changed his mind.
“Now its my understanding that [Senator Byrd] is now coming off that and saying that a smaller bill can be done in reconciliation,” Senator Hatch said. “Even though a larger bill would not have a chance at passing without the manipulation of the reconciliation rules, the way they’re going to do it is to protect their people over in the House.”
While many are speculating how many votes Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi can round up to pass the Senate version of the health care bill, according to Mr. Hatch, House Democrats have other ideas.
“What they’re planning on doing is not voting on the Reid bill. They’re coming up with this smaller reconciliation bill and then by distorting the rules, send it over to the Senate for a final vote here,” he said.
“They’re throwing it on its face, because Nancy Pelosi can’t pass the 2.5 trillion dollar 2700 page Senate health care bill through the House without reconciliation. If she could have, she would have passed it already by now. She doesn’t have the votes, so they need to abuse the reconciliation rules to get in more special interest deals to buy off the Unions and others at the expense of the American people.”
Finally, earlier this week the Weekly Standard reported that President Barack Obama hosted ten House Democrats at the White House who had initially voted against the health care bill late last year. One of these representatives was congressman Jim Matheson of Utah whose brother, Scott M. Matheson, Jr., was just nominated by the President to the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Questions of a quid pro quo began to swirl around, when many began to wonder if President Obama was using the nomination as leverage to gain a favorable vote on the health bill care from Congressman Matheson.
Senator Hatch, who supported the Matheson nomination to the court early on disagreed. “I don’t think Jim Matheson is going to vote with him under any circumstances. It may look bad, but it isn’t. That is inaccurate,” he said
“I basically approved his brother months ago and told him I would have no objection if he was chosen. There were others on the list I wouldn’t have had objections to either, but he was chosen before this even came up. Matheson has stood pretty strongly against this health care bill, and I think he will continue to do so. I just chatted with him yesterday, and I believe that he is a vote against it.–if he even has a vote,” Senator Hatch explained.
“The way I’m getting it from some of the people I know is that there won’t even be a vote on the Reid bill. In other words, they’re going to phony this up by voting on the small reconciliation package and try to manipulate the rules so that bill with the reconciliation package becomes law once that reconciliation package is passed by at least fifty-one votes in the U.S. Senate.“