White House Considering Using Budget Process for Health Care Reform
Senior members of the administration of President Obama "are pressing lawmakers" to use the budget reconciliation process to pass his proposals for health care reform and other issues, the Washington Post reports.
In the budget process, legislation can move through the Senate without the threat of a filibuster.
Administration officials said that they have not made a final decision about whether to use the process, but White House Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag on Tuesday during a Christian Science Monitor luncheon said that "taking it off the table" is "premature" (Montgomery, Washington Post, 3/18).
Orszag said, "It is not where we would like to start," adding, "I am aware, and the president is aware, of the concerns that have been expressed, especially by Republicans" (Maggs, CongressDaily, 3/18).
Response From Congressional Leaders
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that congressional Democratic leaders might use the process (Bettelheim, CQ Today, 3/17).
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that he has made no decision on whether to use the process (Sanchez, CongressDaily, 3/18).
Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) previously has said that he opposes the use of the process to pass health care reform legislation.
Congressional Republicans criticized the potential use of the process, which the Post reports "could irrevocably damage relations with the new president" (Montgomery, Washington Post, 3/18).
Obama on Tuesday said that he will continue to seek passage of his proposals for health care reform and other issues during the debate on his $3.55 trillion fiscal year 2010 budget plan, despite the prospect of higher deficits, CQ Today reports.
After a meeting with Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and House Budget Committee Chair John Spratt (D-S.C.), Obama said that his budget plan, which includes a $634 billion health care reserve fund, is necessary to provide "an economic blueprint for the future" (Bettelheim, CQ Today, 3/17).Conrad and Spratt told Obama that they would seek to pass a budget plan designed to reflect his priorities on health care and other issues but added that they would need to make some adjustments to his proposal (Cooper/Hulse, New York Times, 3/18). 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.