Last week the House Ways and Means committee began the process of creating a reconciliation bill. The reconciliation measure was authorized or permitted as a result of the last budget resolution. The legislation being crafted in the House will attempt to repeal key parts of the Affordable Care Act. They cannot repeal all of the ACA because that would increase the deficit and violate the rules of reconciliation. There was agreement in the Senate late last summer that they would hold a vote through reconciliation to repeal the ACA. The House reconciliation will also eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood as promised to House members.
The reconciliation process was established in the 1970s as a way to reduce long-term mandatory an entitlement spending and to reduce the deficit. Over the years it has become a beneficial tool for congressional leadership in that it bypasses the Senate filibuster and sets specific time limits on debates. The process also means that the Senate can pass a reconciliation bill with a simple majority. This year’s reconciliation instruction was included in the spring’s budget resolution and gave authority to the Ways and Means Committee, the Commerce and Energy Committee and the Education and Workforce Committee in the House while it covers the Senate Finance and Help Committees. In the House the committees are constructing a bill that will cut out key parts of the ACA and Planned Parenthood funding. After the various committees finish their work it is combined into one bill by the Budget Committee. Usually the Senate would take their own actions to craft their own version but it is expected the Senate will cut down on some of the time by taking up the House bill. The strategy allows for the Senate Republican leadership to meet their commitment to some caucus members who wanted another vote on repealing the ACA and by using the House bill it will save some Senate schedule.
The final step would send it to the President for a certain veto. Through a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) issued on legislation that repeals the ACA President Obama has been clear on his opposition to a repeal of that law and he has also issued a SAP on defunding Planned Parenthood.
In the last 35 years this will be only the fourth time a reconciliation bill is vetoed by the President. President Bill Clinton vetoed a 1995 welfare reform reconciliation and in 1999 and 2000 reconciliation bills that cut taxes.