Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said Thursday that it is unlikely the Senate will be able to pass a health care reconciliation bill unchanged from what the House passes.
Conrad said the Senate Parliamentarian has declined to make rulings on several issues in the bill that Republicans are likely to challenge under the "Byrd rule." That rule states that, among other things, every provision of a budget reconciliation bill must have a budget impact and cannot be "extraneous."
"Although we've spent many, many hours with the Parliamentarian, some things he has not yet rendered a conclusion" on, Conrad said. "He wants to hear from both sides before he does."
Conrad continued: "Do I expect there will be some additional Byrd rule challenges that will be upheld? Yeah. I do."
Sixty votes are needed to waive Byrd rule points of order, but with only 59 members in the Democratic Conference and united GOP opposition to the bill, Democrats are unlikely to meet that threshold if the Parliamentarian decides any provision in the bill violates the Byrd rule or the budget act. If a point of order is sustained, the offending provision would be struck from the bill, and the entire measure would need to passed again in the House before heading to the president for his signature.