The informal negotiations Democrats plan to use to reconcile differences on healthcare drew fire from none other than Harry Reid back in 2006.
Democrats will reportedly forgo a formal conference committee and instead use closed-door negotiations to work out the differences between the House and Senate legislation.
Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate majority leader, himself decried legislative dealmaking outside of the formal conference committee process in 2006 when the Senate was discussing asbestos legislation.
In the passage below, Reid also criticizes the use of "managers' amendments" to facilitate dealmaking. Democrats did use managers' amendments to help alleviate the concerns of centrists on healthcare legislation:
"Of course, nobody can see the managers' amendment. It is composed of over 40 amendments. How could anyone vote for a piece of legislation such as that — a managers' amendment with 42 separate amendments?
Now, these amendments were not put in in a conference committee. People complain about that. But at least in a conference committee, you have people working together, sticking things in. Sometimes Democrats complain and sometimes Republicans complain — whoever is in the minority here. Well, we didn't get enough consultation; you cut us out of the process. But at least you had a group of Democrats and Republicans in the process. Here, you have one person making a decision as to what is going to be in the managers' amendment. There is no way to know what is in it. How could anyone say: 'OK'? You have taken care of me, but I don't want to see the other 40 amendments — -because with this legislation, similar to all legislation, you put something in one spot, and you have to take something out someplace else."
A spokesman for Reid didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. See video of the comments below.
Many Democrats think that forgoing the formal conference is necessary due to Republican intentions to draw out the process as long as possible. The GOP could, for example, delay the process of appointing members of the conference committee.
"This fight isn't over. My colleagues and I will work to stop this bill
from becoming law," Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said before the
By holding informal discussions instead, Democrats get to avoid a number of procedural votes on that front.
Here's video of Reid's comments, via Real Clear Politics: