The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Tonight: The Reconciliation Rule!

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


This evening, the House Rules Committee will meet to set the debate parameters for H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015, a reconciliation bill that would essentially cripple Obamacare.  Created by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 in order to expedite spending- and budget-related legislation, the reconciliation process addresses only areas of spending, revenue, and the debt limit.  Only one bill (addressing one, two, or all of these subjects) can be considered each year.  The House is scheduled to vote on the reconciliation bill Wednesday evening.  If it passes, President Obama will have 10 days to sign or veto the bill. House Republicans have tried many times to repeal Obamacare since it was first passed and signed into law; however, reconciliation can bypass efforts by Senate Democrats who have blocked any legislation that would repeal the healthcare law.  The 2015 reconciliation bill, crafted in the House and strengthened in the Senate, is a privileged motion that requires only a simple majority to pass in the Senate and it cannot be filibustered, overcoming the stalemate of a 60-vote threshold normally required to end debate.  The Senate passed the bill with a 52-47 vote on December 3, 2015. The bill passed by the Senate and awaiting approval by the House would not completely repeal the healthcare law, as many aspects of the original Obamacare law are beyond the scope allowed under reconciliation procedure; however, it cuts out some of the most critical pieces of the law, such as the requirement for every individual to have healthcare coverage (the so-called “individual mandate”) and the requirement for businesses to offer healthcare to their employees (“employer mandate”).  The Congressional Budget Office found that this repeal would reduce the federal deficit by $516 billion from 2016 to 2025.  While the bill would save taxpayers billions, it is likely to be vetoed by President Obama, and the Republican majorities in both the House and Senate are smaller than the two-thirds needed in each chamber to override such a veto.  That said, the achievement of finally getting conservative priorities to the president’s desk, without Senate Democrats shielding him from politically popular reforms that he opposes, highlights a stark contrast between the chief executive and the GOP-led Congress.

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