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| Main | Wednesday Night's ONT is Something Else, We're Just Not Sure What.
March 22, 2017

Hmmmm...: Mike Lee Says Senate Parliamentarian Informed Him It Might Be Possible to Undo Obamacare Regulations Via Reconciliation

So, reconciliation -- where you only need 51 votes for passage, and where a filibuster is not allowed -- is usually only allowed for budgetary measures.

It has been argued that Obamacare can only be repealed in multiple phases because step one has to be entirely budgetary in nature, in order to be doable via the reconciliation route in the Senate. Regulation reforms would have to wait for phase 2 or 3, which of course can then be filibustered. (This is why a lot of people argue phase 2 and phase 3 aren't going to happen.)

But now Mike Lee says he discussed things with the Senate Parliamentarian -- who rules on what can or cannot be done via reconciliation (among many other things)-- and it's his understanding now that some regulation repeal can be done via reconciliation too.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said on Wednesday that the Senate parliamentarian has told him that it may be possible for Republicans to push harder on repealing Obamacare's regulations than the current House bill, which contradicts the assertion by House leadership that the legislation goes after Obamacare as aggressively as possible under Senate rules.

"What I understood her to be saying is that there's no reason why an Obamacare repeal bill necessarily could not have provisions repealing the health insurance regulations," Lee said in an interview with the Washington Examiner, relating a conversation with parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough about reconciliation he had on Tuesday.

Lee also said that the parliamentarian told him it wasn't until very recently, after the unveiling of the House bill, that any Republican even asked her about the possibility of repealing regulations with a simple majority.


...

"One of the things we've been told over and over again is the bill was no more aggressive than it has been... in part because of Senate rules," Lee said. "And the Senate rules are something those defending the bill have repeatedly pointed to in defense of why they wrote it the way they wrote it. The parliamentarian said, there's not necessarily any reason that would categorically preclude you from doing more, both on the repeal front and the replacement front, all sorts of things are possible."

He continued, "What matters is how it's done, how it's written up. There are ways it's written up that perhaps make it not subject to passage through reconciliation, but there are other ways you could write it that might make it work."

The so-called American Health Care Act already looks dicey for passage, with Republican opponents claiming they have 22 or 25 Republicans ready to vote against it, and a claim that even more can be done via reconciliation will endanger it further.


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posted by Ace at 06:43 PM

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