Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) refused to predict the odds for health reform passing Congress, but told C-SPAN’s Washington Journal this morning that lawmakers would have to use reconciliation “if health care is to pass.” “We’ve passed a lot of major legislation through the reconciliation process in the past and this would be another example of that”:
CSPAN: You said you’re not sure it would pass. Can you give our viewers an idea of the likelihood that this might pass?
BINGAMAN: Well, I can’t frankly, I think the real determination will be made in the House of Representatives. The House, of course, has a very narrow margin of folks who have supported this bill and a few of them are no longer there, the ones who voted for it last year and the question is can they get enough votes in the House to go ahead to pass a series of changes to the Senate passed bill.
Asked to respond to Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) Washington Post editorial claiming that reconciliation should only be used on “legislation that commands broad, bipartisan support,” Bingaman conceded that some past reconciliation bills like CHIP attracted bipartisan support but argued that lawmakers had to use the process precisely because their bills could not attract wide bipartisan support.
“There was bipartisan support, there is no question for those, but there were not 60 votes for those,” he said. “The real issue is, are you going to use reconciliation in order to pass something with a majority in the Senate — there has to be a majority in favor — or are you not? And I agree that there had been other bills that passed as part of reconciliation that had some bipartisan support, but they do not have 60 votes.”