Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Parliamentary Hurdle Could Thwart Latest Health Care Overhaul Strategy

From the New York Times:
The White House and Democratic Congressional leaders said Tuesday that they were bracing for a key procedural ruling that could complicate their effort to approve major health care legislation, by requiring President Obama to sign the bill into law before Congress could revise it through an expedited budget process.

An official determination on the matter could come within days from the House and Senate parliamentarians, and could present yet another hurdle for Mr. Obama and Democratic leaders as they try to lock in support from skittish lawmakers in the House.

The article suggests that the ruling will turn on a question of statutory interpretation. The reconciliation instructions contained in last year's budget resolution said that committees should "report changes in laws" that would help reduce the deficit. The question the parliamentarians must now rule on is whether this means that the current health care bill must be enacted and signed into law before any reconciliation bill can be passed -- a step that House lawmakers may be reluctant to take, given the extreme distrust they currently feel toward the Senate and its ability to accomplish anything.

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