01.26.10

Republican Reconciliation Strategy “Patently Absurd,” Former Parliamentarian Says

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Around the time that I was posting my interview with former Senate Parliamentarian Robert Dove, Greg Sargent reported that Republican senators were planning to stall any attempt at passing health reform through reconciliation with a “free for all of amendments.” Citing a “senior GOP aide,” Sargent writes:

He said the leadership — Senators Mitch McConnell, Jon Kyl, Lamar Alexander, etc. — are discussing how to exploit the fact that the reconciliation process allows for an “open-ended amendment process.”…

“If you bring a reconciliation bill to the Senate, it’s a free for all of amendments,” the GOP aide said, cautioning that this was only part of the overall strategy. “There is no way to limit the number of amendments that are voted on. You can’t close debate.”

Sargent reported that this understanding of reconciliation rules was confirmed by another unnamed Senate aide, this time on the Democratic side.

“That’s patently absurd,” Robert Dove told me when I relayed to him these aides’ claims. “All I can tell you is that reconciliation limits debate to 20 hours, and amendments have to be germane.”

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Comments

[…] at least one former Senate parliamentarian is calling the strategy “patently absurd.” According to Robert Dove, who served as Senate parliamentarian until 2001, “In the […]

Nan Hunter says:

Is the answer perhaps in Tim Jost’s earlier post:
“Debate in the Senate is limited by law to 20 hours. But at the end of the debate the Senate moves to one of its most bizarre procedures, “votearama.” An unlimited number of amendments can be offered to the reconciliation bill at this point, with 2 minutes of debate on each amendment. Given the degree to which the Republicans have gone to obstruct this legislation, dozens, perhaps hundreds of amendments could be expected. (In 2003, 65 amendments were considered to the reconciliation act). Eventually, however, the process would end and a final vote will be taken.”

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