All of which is why the R-Word seems to be on people’s lips today in DC:
“My guess is that musty folders on reconciliation got dusted off this morning,” Podesta told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. The reference was to a budget procedure that requires only 51 votes to pass and can’t be filibustered.
Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, said Senate Democratic leaders are “extremely close to 60” votes for their health reform bill. If Lieberman and Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson look like non-starters, he said, the next question is, is there a way to get Maine moderates Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins on board?
Just a reminder: This is not an ideal solution. It would likely mean jettisoning much of the bill, as anything that passes under reconciliation has to either raise revenue or reduce the deficit. It also means the bill would have to be budget neutral over a five-year window, not the 10-year one in the current legislation. But it would be a way to assure that something passes.
UPDATE: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s spokesman Jim Manley denies that reconciliation is under consideration: “No, it’s not.” He notes that Senate Democrats will be caucusing this afternoon, and says, “The focus of this afternoon is to get to 60 votes.”