House Committee Adopts $3.45T FY 2010 Budget Resolution
On Wednesday, the House Budget Committee approved a $3.45 trillion fiscal year 2010 budget resolution that includes the use of the budget reconciliation process to pass comprehensive health care reform legislation, Reuters/Boston Globe reports (Cowan/Pelofsky, Reuters/Boston Globe, 3/26).
The resolution calls for the creation of a deficit-neutral health care reserve. The measure requires that the committees of jurisdiction draft legislation related to the use of the fund by Sept. 29 (Sanchez, CongressDaily, 3/25).
House Budget Committee Chair John Spratt (D-S.C.) said, "The president's major initiatives -- those in health care, energy, education and the environment -- are all implemented" (Reuters/Boston Globe, 3/26).
Before adopting the measure, the committee considered several amendments, including one by ranking member Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that would have barred the use of a health care reserve fund in the resolution to pay for the creation of a government-controlled health insurance plan. The committee also rejected another Ryan amendment that would have removed the reconciliation language from the resolution (Krawzak/Clarke, CQ Today, 3/25).
Senate Budget Committee To Vote on Resolution Thursday
On Wednesday, the Senate Budget Committee discussed its version of the budget resolution, CQ Today reports. The committee on Thursday is expected to complete its markup of the proposal.
According to CQ Today, the resolution will include a health care reserve fund but the amount of the fund is not established. According to the measure, the reserve fund must be deficit-neutral (Krawzak/Clarke, CQ Today, 3/25).
The resolution calls for total spending of $3.5 trillion in FY 2010 (Espo/Taylor, AP/Denver Post, 3/26). The Senate resolution does not include reconciliation language. The discrepancies between the two measures will be resolved later this spring (Krawzak/Clarke, CQ Today, 3/25).
If the Senate eventually agrees to the reconciliation process, it would require only 51 votes to pass a health care initiative, according to CongressDaily (CongressDaily, 3/25).
The debate over whether to include reconciliation instructions to advance health care reform proposals in the final budget resolution "will almost certainly be the biggest issue for House and Senate negotiators when they hammer out a conference agreement next month," according to CQ Today.
Neither Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) nor Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) want to use the budget reconciliation process because "such a move would inflame partisan tensions and they believe the process should be used only for deficit reduction," CQ Today reports (Clarke, CQ Today, 3/25).
However, several Democratic members of the Senate Budget Committee on Wednesday "expressed support" for using budget reconciliation, CQ Today reports (Krawzak/Clarke, CQ Today, 3/25).
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday said he is willing to consider using budget reconciliation to advance health care reform legislation. During a conference call with reporters, Reid said, "I think it's something we need to consider."
White House officials on Wednesday reiterated that while they would prefer not to use the budget reconciliation process, they do not want to take the option off the table (Werner, AP/Boston Globe, 3/26).
Both chambers are scheduled to vote on their respective resolutions next week (Krawzak/Clarke, CQ Today, 3/25).
According to the AP/Post, "Given the strong Democratic congressional majorities in both houses, there is little or no doubt the spending blueprints can pass both houses next week" (Espo/Taylor, AP/Denver Post, 3/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.