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September 25, 2009

Howard Dean Talks Budget Reconciliation (Video Exclusive)

By Lindsay Beyerstein

Last night, I quite unexpectedly scored an exclusive video interview with Howard Dean at the 92nd St YMCA where he was promoting his new book on health reform.

I asked him about the chances that Democrats will try to use budget reconciliation to pass a health care bill and thwart a filibuster. The conventional wisdom is that reconciliation is too risky. Dean begs to differ. Watch


1) What is "budget reconciliation"?

2) and how would this differ substantively from just ignoring a filibuster and calling a vote on the matter? There is no provision in the consitituiton for the filibuster and no Congress is compelled to withstand a filibuster, whatever that is

If it's a case of looking for political cover, then I say grow some.

These congressmen, they just love their drama, don't they.

1. Senate rules say that reconciliation of budget bills passed by the two houses is filibuster-proof. That is, Senators are allowed to filibuster the bill when the Senate considers it, but after it passes and there's a special bicameral committee reconciling the bill with the (different) bill passed by the House, the Senate has to give it an up-or-down vote. This is not quite accurate because there's still a chance to offer amendments, but those amendments are subject to filibuster, whereas the overall reconciled bill is not.

2. It would differ in that the Democrats would avoid the theatrics of having Orrin Hatch read the phone book on the floor. There's nothing wrong with making Hatch read the phone book for a few hours and then voting on health care, but Harry Reid is as brave as Sir Robin from Monty Python.

Excellent interview. I do love that Howard Dean.

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