The Hidden Senate Health Care Bogey

September 1, 2009 8:17 a.m.

It’s a big potential hang up that could make a senate health care bill much better for progressives or kill it entirely. In most conversations, the question of whether to push health care legislation through ‘reconciliation’ in the senate (which requires 51 rather than 60 votes) is being treated largely as an issue of how tough Senate Dems are willing to get.

But there’s a catch — a dynamic interaction between senate procedures and the substance (and thus the politics) of the bill. In short, to make a health care bill pass muster under the fairly arcane ‘reconciliation’ procedures, you may need to make the public option substantially more robust than what many Senate Dems are now envisioning.

In other words, maybe you have 55 votes for health care reform, but not 60. So you go for reconciliation. But you could have a situation where the Dems decide to pull the trigger on reconciliation (which needs 50 votes plus Joe Biden). But to meet the reconciliation guidelines you may need to include a public option that only 48 or 45 Dems will vote for.

Confused? We have the story here.

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