Bingaman: I’ll Support Passing Health Care Reform Through Reconciliation
The New Mexico Independent’s Marjorie Childress attended a town hall meeting yesterday in Albuquerque featuring Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) — a member of the so-called “Gang of Six” senators at the center of negotiations over the Senate Finance Committee’s pending health care reform bill. Bingaman said access to “decent affordable health care” was a “human right” — a view not shared by at least one prominent Republican senator — and expressed support for a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers. However, he said that the inclusion of a public option in a final bill was not a deal-breaker.
Also of note, Bingaman said he would join fellow Democrats to pass reforms using the budget reconciliation process if Republicans successfully filibuster the bill.
He also said that while he still hopes to craft a bipartisan bill in the Senate, if that effort fails he would support pushing a health care reform bill through this year using the budget reconciliation bill.
Reconciliation is a special process through which the Senate deals with budget issues. Only 51 votes are needed to pass a budget reconciliation bill on the floor of the Senate, whereas all other bills are susceptible to a filibuster which requires 60 votes to overcome.
“We made a provision in the budget resolution [earlier this year] that it [the reconciliation bill] could be used to try to enact health care provisions related to health care reform,” he said. “There are restrictions to what you can include in that … but I would support it if that’s the only way.”