The House Ways and Means Committee has agreed to send H.R. 3200, the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, to the House Budget Committee.
By packaging the bill as a budget bill, House leaders might be able to use a process called the “reconciliation” process to get a health reform bill through the Senate with just 51 votes, rather than 60 votes normally required.
Senators trying to win passage of ordinary Senate bills need to have 60 votes to prevent opponents from “filibustering,” or engaging in endless rounds of discussion. But Senate budget reconciliation procedures permit budget bills to pass with a simple majority of the votes cast.
The vote to send H.R. 3200 to the Budget Committee “does not change the substance of the health reform bill, and it does not indicate a change in process as the bill moves toward a vote in the House of Representatives,” Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., says in a statement.
But “there is a possibility that a handful of Senate Republicans could choose to engage in partisan tactics to stall this important health reform bill,” Rangel says. “By sending the legislation to the Budget Committee, we simply preserve the option of advancing health reform legislation in a manner that would allow a majority of this Congress to answer the call of the American people and President Obama to address this growing crisis.”
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