Monday, January 18, 2010

Senate Rules I Didn't Know

I was surprised, when I read this piece in the Washington Post, to learn that a reconciled health-care bill will still be subject to a possible Senate filibuster. If Republican Scott Brown defeats Democrat Martha Coakley in the election to replace the late Ted Kennedy in the Senate, that might provide a 41st vote against cloture on health care reform.

I had been under the misimpression that once a bill was approved by the Senate and sent to conference committee for reconciliation, it returned to the Senate only for an up-or-down simple majority vote. Apparently, that is only the case with respect to appropriations bills. Thus, a super-majority cloture vote can be required twice for what is in essence the same piece of legislation.

Relevant Senate rules and procedures governing consideration of reconciled bills are discussed in this CRS report.

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