NY Daily News: Alexander: Renounce Reconciliation; Dems Say 'No'

Posted on February 25, 2010

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander opened the President’s health care summit for the GOP today with a shot across the bow of the Democrats, saying they should renounce the idea of using budget reconciliation to pass health care.  My request is this, that before we go further today, that the Democratic congressional leaders and you Mr. President, renounce this idea of going back to the Congress and jamming through on a partisan vote, through a little-used process we call reconciliation, your version of the bill,” Alexander said.

“It’s never been used for anything like this,” he added.

The White House has admitted that its latest blueprint for reform is reconciliation-ready, but has been at pains to say it is interested in genuine compromise.

Still, Alexander insisted compromise would not happen if reconciliation is on the table. “To do that, we’ll have to renounce jamming it through in a partisan way. If we don’t then the rest of what we do today will not be relevant… The only thing that will be bipartisan will be opposition to the bill.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did not take it off the table, and insisted it wasn’t something that had not been done before, enumerating where it had been, including President George W. Bush’s tax cuts.

“Reconciliation isn’t some thing that’s never been done before,” he said.

And President Obama declined to take reconciliation off the table, as well, saying folks might be surprised that they can agree on a lot. He also allowed “it may turn out, on the other hand, that there’s just too big a gulf, and then we’ll have to figure out how we proceed from there.”