Conrad: GOP would be 'misusing' reconciliation to repeal health law

Using the budget reconciliation process to repeal healthcare reform would be inappropriate, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said Wednesday.

Even if Republicans win the White House and keep the House in 2012, repealing the healthcare law through normal procedures would require the same 60-vote threshold that was needed to pass it. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said during Tuesday night’s debate that he would ask Congress to repeal the healthcare law through reconciliation, which only requires 51 votes in the Senate.

Some parts of the law were passed through reconciliation after Scott Brown’s election deprived Democrats the 60 votes they would need to stop a filibuster on a traditional conference between the House and Senate bills.

Romney said he would grant waivers from the healthcare law on the first day of his administration, then seek a full repeal.

“We have to repeal Obamacare, and I will do that on day two, with the reconciliation bill, because as you know, it was passed by reconciliation,” he said.

But Conrad said that wouldn’t be an appropriate use of reconciliation. The process is intended for policies that reduce the federal deficit, he said. And the Congressional Budget Office said the healthcare law will reduce federal deficits by $143 billion over its first 10 years.

“CBO has also said that repealing the entire health care law would dramatically increase the deficit, so Republicans would be misusing reconciliation if they tried to use it for that purpose,” Conrad said in a statement.