Harkin makes it official: Time for reconciliation

Democrats lay out plan for passing healthcare reform

Published March 3, 2010 4:48PM (EST)

It's the worst kept secret in Washington: In order to pass healthcare reform -- or at least try to -- Congressional Democrats will use a Senate procedure known as reconciliation, which prevents Republicans from filibustering the bill. But until Wednesday, Democratic leaders had been pretending they hadn't made a decision yet.

The charade now seems to be over. After a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sens. Baucus, Dodd, Durbin, Murray and Schumer, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, told Politico that the decision has been made to use reconciliation.

Harkin also reportedly told Politico that the House will have the first move as this unfolds, passing the Senate bill -- after it's clear that Reid has the votes to make fixes to that legislation through reconciliation. The order in which the two chambers acted had been a point of contention in recent negotiations.

It seems likely that the timing of Harkin's comments has at least something to do with remarks that President Obama will be making on healthcare reform this afternoon.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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