President Obama and congressional Democrats plan to move forward on health care reform this week and in spite of Republican objections, may use a process called "reconciliation" to pass the legislation.
In this video report, NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman explains the reconciliation procedure, a provision that was designed to speed up Senate processes and keep spending and taxes within budget by prohibiting filibusters and limiting floor debate. Reconciliation was adopted 36 years ago and requires only 51 votes in the Senate -- a number that Democrats have.
According to analyst Thomas Mann, reconciliation has since become an opportunity for legislators to pass a law as a last resort.
Republicans used the produce in 2001 and 2003 to pass tax cuts under President George W. Bush. Congressional Republicans of today, however, object to the possibility that Democrats could use the tactic to pass health care legislation that they oppose.
"Reconciliation brings to mind harmony, but, in fact, it's -- it's to wage war." - Thomas Mann, senior fellow, Brookings Institution
"You can say that [reconciliation] has been used before -- and that would be right -- but it's never been used for anything like this. It's not appropriate to use to write the rules for 17 percent of the economy." - Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.
"Rather than start at the outset talking about legislative process and what's going to happen in the Senate and the House and this and that, what I suggest is let's talk about the substance, how we might help the American people deal with costs, coverage, insurance, these other issues." - U.S. President Barack Obama
1. What does Congress do? How is the Senate different than the House of Representatives?
2. How do bills become law?
3. What is health care? Why are people trying to change it?
1. Do you think that it is fair for the Democrats to use reconciliation to pass health care reform legislation? Why or why not?
2. Do you think it's a better idea for Congress to go back to the drawing board as Republicans have suggested? Why or why not?
3. Why do you think Republicans oppose reconciliation right now when they have used it before? Do you think they are being hypocritical or justified? Do you think that health care reform is too big to be passed this way?
4. Do you think a process like reconciliation is helpful or bad for the democratic process? Is it worthwhile because it prevents deadlock or is it a cheap trick? Explain your answer.
Read the transcript of this report :