Harkin: Reconciliation is a go

March 03, 2010
Sen. Tom Harkin told POLITICO that Senate Democratic leaders have decided to go the reconciliation route. The House, he said, will first pass the Senate bill after Senate leaders demonstrate to House leaders that they have the votes to pass reconciliation in the Senate.

Harkin made the comments after a meeting in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office including Harkin and Sens. Baucus, Dodd, Durbin, Schumer and Murray.

When asked whether the leaders had made the decision, Durbin said: “We are moving ahead with a version of the health care reform bill that we believe has a good chance of passing both the House and the Senate.”

He then put the onus on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to signal whether she can provide enough votes to pass the Senate bill, followed by a package of fixes through reconciliation.

“The first step is with Speaker Pelosi and so I will let her decide what it takes in the House,” Durbin said.

Reconciliation “has always been an option. But she has to make her own decision on what it takes to enact this in the House,” he added.

Durbin said Democrats are “coming to closure” on legislative language to send to the Congressional Budget Office for a cost estimate — a step that can take weeks. “It has not been sent yet, but we are hoping it can be sent soon.”

It remains unclear what kind of guarantee the Senate can provide to the House that the upper chamber will make fixes to the bill, Durbin said.

“I don’t know what the gesture will be but it will be a convincing gesture,” he said.

Manu Raju with Carrie Budoff Brown

Posted by Chris Frates 10:57 AM