Don't Use Budget Process for Big Reform: GOP to Obama

Procedure would allow Democrats to pass agenda with 51 votes
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted Mar 24, 2009 11:34 AM CDT
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, left, talks with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont. at a dinner for congressional committee heads at the White House, March 4, 2009.    (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – To circumvent a likely 60-vote minimum in the Senate for big-ticket bills like health reform, President Obama is considering pursuing proposals through a budgetary tactic known as reconciliation, where just 51 votes are needed and no filibustering is allowed. But Republicans are having none of it, Politico reports. Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl warns that using the process would turn Obama’s agenda into a “purely partisan exercise.”

Moderate Democrats like Sen. Tom Carper are worried reconciliation would do “serious damage to our bipartisan effort.” But, the White House says, it’s just testing the waters. And the GOP wasn’t above using this tool under Bush. “It is interesting to see the views on reconciliation and how they’ve changed since, say, the Bush tax cuts in 2001,” says Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs. (Read more President Obama stories.)