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Santorum: Reconciliation ‘Has Never Been Done Before’ — Except For When I Used It

By Ali Frick  

"Santorum: Reconciliation ‘Has Never Been Done Before’ — Except For When I Used It"

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santorum-small1.jpgLast week, the White House increased the pressure to pass President Obama’s budget proposal this week by keeping the reconciliation language in place that would allow the budget — and the essential health care reforms it includes — to pass with 51 rather than 60 Senate votes.

Adding his voice to the conservative hysteria over the use of reconciliation, former senator Rick Santorum declared today that such a move would “short-circuit the process” and “has never been done before”:

SANTORUM: What the Democrats have done is to try to short-circuit the process on a major piece of legislation. This has never been done before. We have never seen a major, long-term, policy prescription, whether it’s Medicare, or go back throughout history and look at all the major pieces of legislation, none of them have ever been passed using this procedure. … This is truly an abomination.

Listen to it:

Of course, reconciliation has been used nearly 20 times since 1980, when it was first created. The New Republic notes that using reconciliation to pass health care reform fits into the historical pattern. “Whether reducing or increasing deficits, many of the reconciliation bills made major changes in policy. Health insurance portability (COBRA), nursing home standards, expanded Medicaid eligibility, increases in the earned income tax credit, welfare reform, the state Children’s Health Insurance Program, major tax cuts and student aid reform were all enacted under reconciliation procedures.”

Indeed, Santorum himself was the Senate Republicans’ point man in trying to push welfare reform through budget reconciliation in 1995, including it in a budget then-President Clinton opposed, as the Washington Post reported on Nov. 11, 1995:

But the welfare measures will be part of the overall reconciliation bill that Clinton has said he will veto.

Welfare reform may become a free-standing bill to be passed separately from the reconciliation measure. “This is a bill the president has absolutely no reason not to sign,” said Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who acted as an intermediary in negotiations between the House and Senate on welfare.

Arguing that budget reconciliation is the key to enacting meaningful health care reform, the Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky wrote, “14,000 Americans are losing their health care coverage every single day and, instead of seriously considering the President’s proposal, Republicans are busy painting health care reform in red.”

‹ Rep. DeLauro: Budget Conference Committee Will Not Tinker With Social Security

ThinkFast: April 28, 2009 ›

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