Jonathan D. Salant
January 16, 2010
|Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.|
Even if Democrats lose the Jan. 19 special election to pick a new Massachusetts senator, Congress may still pass a health-care overhaul by using a process called reconciliation, a top House Democrat said.
That procedure requires 51 votes rather than the 60 needed to prevent Republicans from blocking votes on President Barack Obama’s top legislative priorities. That supermajority is at risk as the Massachusetts race has tightened.
“Even before Massachusetts and that race was on the radar screen, we prepared for the process of using reconciliation,” said Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
“Getting health-care reform passed is important,” Van Hollen said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend. “Reconciliation is an option.”
Using reconciliation would likely force Democrats to scale back their health-care plans. The procedure is designed to make deficit-cutting easier by reducing the number of votes needed to pass unpopular tax increases and spending cuts. Lawmakers can’t include policy changes that the parliamentarian deems have only an “incidental” connection to budget-cutting, and senators would need 60 votes to override those rulings.