Congress Goes Nuclear

Republicans go about Washington infuriated these days. Their opposite numbers in Congress are proposing a little-used parliamentary procedure known as reconciliation to pass a final health-care reform bill. Reconciliation, say Republicans, isn’t supposed to be used for “regular” lawmaking. Right-wing commentators are similarly outraged and refer to reconciliation as “the nuclear option.”

Is it? Reconciliation can be used to expedite votes and was intended originally to facilitate the passing of budgetary law. It allows a bill to be passed in the Senate with a simple majority, overruling a filibuster. The New Republic notes that, “As the filibuster has evolved from a rarely used signal of unusually strong dissent into a routine requirement for a supermajority, reconciliation has become a vital legislative tool, embraced by both parties.”

In spite of Republicans’ current dissatisfiction, they used reconciliation themselves several times. The magazine reminds readers that “President Reagan used reconciliation to pass a collection of tax and budgetary changes that constituted the heart of the Reagan Revolution.” Since, it’s been used to pass welfare reform, major health-care initiatives and allow the drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“What’s so strange,” according to The New Republic, “is that, not only has reconciliation been used for far more sweeping purposes than those contemplated by Democrats today, it has done so with hardly any controversy.”

The Republicans have a good case to make against collectivized health care. Physicians opposite it while there’s little reason to presume that more government can cure the system. They shouldn’t bother to criticize the Democrats for whatever tactics they entertain. They should criticize them for enacting a fiscally irresponsible and outright immoral health-care scheme.


  1. spot on. its first and foremost a moral issue and secondarily one of economics although the summit was nothing short of a joke and Ryan stood out quite well from the bunch. But the republican party is the party of stupid. complain about the democrats while being a minority then once they get a hold of Office, and in the spirit of pragmatism, adopt the same policies.

  2. I’m weary of forcing a resolution when there can’t be a consensus, it seems to ignore the underlying issues.

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