The Senate is struggling to move a reconciliation bill that would repeal parts of the ACA and cut-off federal funds to Planned Parenthood. Last month the House of Representatives passed a reconciliation measure based on an instruction included in the spring budget resolution. The legislation is political message bill that will certainly be vetoed by President Obama. The legislation repeals key parts of the Affordable Care Act. The process does not allow for a repeal all of the ACA due to the fact that a total repeal 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. In an effort to save time Senate leaders decided to take up the House measure instead of writing their own.
The challenge for Senate leaders is that some of the provisions in the House bill would be in violation of the Senate’s Byrd Rule (former-senator Robert Byrd (D-WV)) which requires provisions in the reconciliation to be relevant to deficit reduction. In addition, while Republican senators will vote to repeal the ACA some members are a little less certain about talking a vote to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood.
The reconciliation process was established in the 1970s as a way to reduce long-term mandatory and 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. 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.