by Joel White
“Budget Reconciliation” may be the most popular phrase on Capitol Hill right now. This special legislative process allows certain bills to be passed in the Senate with a simple majority, so long as they impact the budget.
With the Senate evenly divided — and the vice president holding the tie-breaking vote — Democrats used budget reconciliation to pass President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.
Democrats argued the need to pass aid was too urgent to wait for normal procedure. But some lawmakers now suggest they’ll also try to use the budget process to overhaul the prescription drug market, as well. They plan to do this by reviving a bill passed by the House — but not the Senate — back in 2019, known as H.R. 3.
Here’s the thing about reconciliation, though: The fact that Democrats even need it is a sign of a bad bill. Under the normal process, bills need at least 60 Senate votes to become law. With the current congressional makeup, that would mean all the Senate Democrats plus at least 10 Republicans. Such a split would compel the kind of debate —and compromise — that oen leads to better laws. Through budget reconciliation, though, the party in power can pass occasional budget-related legislation without negotiation.
H.R. 3 is a bad bill. While it would reduce Medicare spending on prescription drugs by $456 billion over ten years, those savings would come at a steep price. Indeed, the Senate nixed the bill in 2019 because it will reduce patient access to lifesaving treatments and stifle innovation.Read the Article
Fill out the form to download
"*" indicates required fields