In a desperate rush to pass their government takeover of healthcare before President Obama departs for Asia on March 21, 2010, House Democrat leaders are trying to assure their skeptical Members that the Senate will simply rubberstamp their reconciliation “sidecar” bill and send it to the White House for signature. However, the history of reconciliation legislation suggests that this is highly unlikely, especially given the fact that 41 Republican Senators have already pledged to reject all “Byrd Rule” violations.
In fact, of the 22 times Congress has considered reconciliation legislation since 1980, there has only been a single instance where the Senate has not somehow amended the reconciliation bill, and thus required further House action. The lone exception was the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1983.
As depicted below, past experience with reconciliation suggests that the bill will either be subject to a “Byrd Rule” point of order or other amendment by the Senate. The chances of the Senate taking up the House-passed sidecar bill, amending it, or subjecting it to a Byrd Rule point of order are, therefore, high. House Democrat leadership seems to be asking Members to bet against history.
Budget Resolutions and Resultant Reconciliation Acts Since 1980