Repeating conservative lies about reconciliation, Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell today that reconciliation for health care reform “procedurally cannot be done.” Claiming it was never used for major legislation without “overwhelming bipartisan support,” Bond predicted the Senate will ultimately not be able to pass the health care bill through the reconciliation process:
BOND: Well, first of all the president shouldn’t get his allies to cram through on reconciliation, something to which the American people overwhelmingly object. They object to reconciliation. It was never meant to pass major substantive changes, whether they are trying to make a bad bill slightly less worse. No matter how much you put on the outhouse, it would still smell bad.
MITCHELL: Well, that may be a great Missouri expression but that same outhouse was used for the bush tax cuts and for other major legislation in republican years. why shouldn’t the democrats do exactly what the republicans have been doing?
BOND: Major legislation was passed on reconciliation. Everything from the civil rights to social security passed, overwhelming bipartisan support. Reconciliation was meant to deal only with revenue issues, like — dealing with taxes and spending. Not making substantive changes, which the Speaker is trying to convince the house democrats will be made. They will not be made because procedurally it cannot be done.
Bond’s argument is wrong on several counts. Congressional Democrats do not plan to use reconciliation to make “major substantive changes,” but rather to modify revenue issues, like taxes and spending, while keeping most of the bill that already passed the Senate intact.
Regardless, Bond voted for “substantive” bills using the reconciliation process when he was part of the Republican-controlled Senate under President Bush. They used reconciliation to pass “major” domestic policy legislation, including the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, and important changes to health care policy. In 2005, Bond railed against the filibuster — the use of which has forced Democrats to consider using reconciliation — calling it a “product” of recent Senate rules that “does not derive from the authority of the Constitution.”
Regarding his claim of bipartisan support for reconciliation bills in the past, the Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky has documented how the Senate under Bush passed three reconciliation bills with three or fewer Democratic votes. The 2003 Bush tax cuts were supported by only two Democrats and needed Vice President Cheney’s tie-breaking vote.
And the American people do not “overwhelmingly object” to using reconciliation for health care. A recent Progressive Change Campaign Committee poll of key states found majorities would not “object to the Senate’s use of ‘reconciliation’ rules to pass that bill with a majority vote.” Even 58 percent of people from Bond’s state of Missouri said they would not object.