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Obama Backs Reconciliation Without Actually Saying the Word

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, March 4, 2010

The most notable message presented in President Obama's White House healthcare reform speech on Wednesday is that the next step for Congress would be to seek passage of legislation using simple majority voting—in other words, the reconciliation process.

However, during his 15-minutes speech in front of many healthcare professionals, he never actually used the controversial "R" word.

Without a doubt, though, that's what he meant when he said that Congress has "debated this issue thoroughly—not just for the past year but for decades." He added that health reform was passed in the House with a majority, and then passed by the Senate with a supermajority of 60 votes, which was before Republican Scott Brown won in Massachusetts.

"And now it deserves the same kind of up or down vote that was cast on welfare reform, that was cast on the Children's Health Insurance Program, that was used for COBRA health coverage for the unemployed," he said.

It also includes tax cuts made under the Bush administration—"all of which had to pass Congress with nothing more than a simple majority," he added.

Obama is making the argument that reconciliation rules are appropriate here because reconciliation rules are traditionally used for deficit reduction and healthcare reform will reduce the deficit.

"So at stake right now is not just our ability to solve this problem, but our ability to solve any problem," he said, referring to the ability to push legislation through without the worry of a filibuster. "[The American people] are waiting for us to lead," he said, "And so I ask Congress to finish its work."


Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at jsimmons@healthleadersmedia.com.

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