“Reconciliation” And The Senate Finance Committee

A group of six members of the Senate Finance Committee, often called “The Gang of Six”, is trying to draw up a bill on health care that will be acceptable to the whole committee and to the Senate, when it returns in mid September.

The three Democrats in the group are Max Baucus of Montana (the chair of the committee), Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, and Kent Conrad of North Dakota.

The surprising news coming out is that Baucus and Bingaman are now willing to consider “reconciliation”, to support the passage of a “public option” by a 51 vote majority of the Senate, overcoming the danger of a filibuster.

So far, Kent Conrad has been reluctant to go that far, and has promoted non profit coops as an alternative, but it is seen as possible he might come over to the view of his two Democratic colleagues.

Were that to happen, it would be a major step forward toward adoption of a public option, even if not one GOP member in either house backs it.

While this is not the preferred way to get health care legislation through Congress, the refusal of Republicans to show any support for reform is forcing this possible direction on the debate.

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