A history of misuse of parliamentary procedures by Democrats


The year was 1994 and President Clinton was trying to get his healthcare reform bill passed through Congress. In the beginning, the public supported his and Hillary’s healthcare reform. It sounded good on paper. At the time, the Senate like the House was controlled by Democrats. The Democrats held a 14-seat majority in the Senate (57 Democrats, 43 Republicans). In the House, the Democrats held 258 seats to the Republican’s 176, with one Independent.

Once the Clinton administration announced that 40 percent of insured Americans would pay more in healthcare premiums, public support began to fade. Members of Clinton’s own party ran from “HillaryCare.” This left the president and Democrats in the Senate no choice but to use reconciliation if they wanted the president’s legislation passed.

The Senate would be stopped from voting on the bill by the “conscience of the Senate,” Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV). Senator Byrd said that the health care plan “was out of bounds for a process that is theoretically about budgets.”

Hmm, perhaps Obama and Reid should listen to him. If the only way Democrats can pass their nationalized healthcare bill is to use a measure reserved for budgetary items only, then they should rethink the bill altogether.

Sen. Byrd also stated that “using reconciliation to expedite healthcare reform would be an outrage that must be resisted.” Apparently no one is listening to him.

The Democrats are correct that reconciliation has been used and used by both parties. Of course, they are just rambling off their talking points about when Republicans have used it, not when they have used it. For those that don’t know, the primary and only use for reconciliation is for the “consideration of a contentious budget bill;” the operative word there being budget.

Reconciliation is not meant to be used to pass any type of “comprehensive, rational overhaul,” especially one that will affect one-sixth if the economy.

When former President Clinton met with Senate Democrats in 2009, he told them that the reason they lost the Senate in November 1994 was because they didn’t pass his legislation. WRONG.

The reason the Democrats lost their majority was because Americans weren’t too keen on the nationalization of healthcare and there was growing concern among Independents and “soft partisans” about the amount of government spending and the rising national debt (sound familiar?).

In comparing Obama’s desire to take over healthcare to that of Clinton, The Economist of London observed, “Not since Franklin Roosevelt’s War Production Board has it been suggested that so large a part of the American economy should suddenly be brought under government control.”

Democrats tried and failed in making their case for nationalized health care. They had 60 votes in the Senate and the 218 needed in the House. As time went on, Americans increased their opposition to the Senate and House bills and now to the Obama bill because all three cost too much and force individuals to purchase coverage.

The administration and Congress have decided to ignore the will of the people. If the Democrats want to try again and use reconciliation to pass a bill that is highly opposed by the American people, let ’em. It’s the equivalent of committing political suicide. According to Speaker Pelosi, she is willing to give them the rope to hang themselves.

Laura Lunsford

Fayetteville, Ga.