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Conrad Defends Limited Use of Reconciliation

Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) on Sunday defended the use of filibuster-busting budget reconciliation rules to pass a narrow bill amending the health care reform legislation passed earlier by the Senate.

Conrad said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that it would be unreasonable and impossible to use reconciliation for the broad overhaul of health insurance reforms, but those have already passed the Senate.

The reconciliation package “would be very limited,” Conrad said, dealing with items such as affordability credits and Medicaid expansion.

Conrad said that is consistent with past reconciliation bills, including ones creating the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and COBRA insurance.

“Using reconciliation would not be for the main issues at all,” he said.

“It’s totally reasonable,” Conrad said of the changes that would be made. “The major package would not be done through reconciliation, that would be unreasonable.”

And Conrad said Democrats have to finish their work.

“We have to do it because we’re on an unsustainable course,” Conrad said.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) acknowledged that the House would have to move first on passing a reconciliation sidecar to the Senate bill, and he said he hopes they can get it done.

But House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) predicted that such a plan would yield electoral disaster for Democrats.

“If Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi rams through this bill through the House on reconciliation, they will lose their majority in Congress in November,” he said.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) bristled at Cantor’s statement, accusing the Republicans of being disingenuous.

“The Republicans right now are all focused on regaining power,” she said. “If we are successful, then they lose.”

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