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Groups push reconciliation option

Resource type: News |

by Carrie Budoff Brown

An umbrella group of progressive organizations is pressing congressional budget leaders to keep the option of using expedited budget procedures to move President Barack Obama’s healthcare initiatives through the Senate – a move that would allow Democrats to pass a bill without Republican votes.

But at least one major group, AARP, disagrees, saying it believes a bipartisan approach is needed.

Health Care for America Now sent a letter Monday to budget committee chairmen and ranking Republicans, asking them to “protect health care reform from a filibuster by including in the budget resolution the option of using a budget reconciliation process for health care reform.”

The reconciliation process fast-tracks budget bills by lowering the threshold for Senate passage from 60 votes to 51 votes. It would lift the burden on Democrats to craft a bill that appeals to both parties.

Republicans oppose using reconciliation to deal with health care reform, saying it would doom efforts to draft a bipartisan bill. Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) has also resisted the idea, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) favors keeping the reconciliation process alive.

AARP also sent a letter Monday to congressional leaders outlining the group’s budget priorities, but declined to make a pitch for reconciliation.

“Finally, we believe bipartisan support will be essential to the successful enactment of health care reform,” the letter reads. “AARP looks forward to working with this committee and with members from both sides of the aisle to achieve this important goal.”

Health Care for America Now represents some the largest players in the health-care debate, including the AFL-CIO, Center for American Progress Action Fund, and The group also detailed six priorities for the budget, including establishing more than $634 billion for a health care reserve fund, identify new revenue sources and waive pay-as-you-go budgeting.