Lincoln rejects using reconciliation to pass health bill

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) rejected using the budget reconciliation process to pass health reform legislation on Tuesday.

Lincoln joined Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) to reject using the parliamentary maneuver bypassing the 60-vote majority needed in the Senate to bypass a filibuster in order to pass Democrats' health reform bill.

“I am opposed to and will fight against any attempts to push through changes to the Senate health insurance reform legislation by using budget reconciliation tactics that would allow the Senate to pass a package of changes to our original bill with 51 votes," she said in a statement. "I will not accept any last-minute efforts to force changes to health insurance reform issues through budget reconciliation, and neither will Arkansans."

ADVERTISEMENT
Democrats have been considering a number of options on how to pass their healthcare bill since losing their filibuster-proof majority in Massachusetts's special election last Tuesday.

One of the emerging options would be for the House to pass a "sidecar" bill making fixes to the Senate's original healthcare bill, and then sending the fixes to the Senate to pass under reconciliation, which would require a simple, 60-vote majority.

Lincoln, a centrist Democrat who's facing a tough reelection battle this fall, said that if the House were to decline on passing the Senate's healthcare bill, she would work with members of both parties in the House and Senate to pass a health reform bill.

"If the House chooses not to pass the Senate bill as is, then I will work with my colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, to identify the basic reforms that we can agree on," she said. "I hope that our efforts going forward will be truly bipartisan, because the high-pitched, partisan tone in Washington is not creating jobs, nor is it solving the health care challenges facing every American, whether it be cost or access."

Update, 3:19 p.m.: It appears that Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) is also opposed to using the reconciliation process.

More in In The Know

Conan O'Brien trying to get Lincoln Chafee to 1 percent in polls

Read more »