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Here are some news stories and articles which might be of interest to you. I've posted the opening section, and if you want to read more, you can click on "Read the whole article" to go to the original item. You'll find a variety of things here -- current news, political analysis, opinion pieces, articles about religion -- things I've happened to read and want to share with you. It's your Reading Room, so take your time. Browse. You're certain to find something you'll want to read.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Reconciliation Looms Large As Debate Continues

Democrats Could Find The Procedure Costs More Than It's Worth

by Eliza Newlin Carney

A loaded question looms over Senate health care negotiations as they enter the crucial phase between now and mid-October: What if Democrats don't win the 60 votes they need to break a GOP filibuster?

The obvious answer is that they'd resort to the obscure procedural tool known as reconciliation, which would require only a 51-vote majority. For months, Democrats have talked about using reconciliation, a process designed to facilitate fast-track approval of budget bills, if they can't reach the magical number 60.

But as Democrats' informal mid-October deadline for action draws near, the complexities of reconciliation are looking increasingly nasty. Restrictive reconciliation rules would require non-germane measures, such as those with no budget implications, to be considered separately.

At least one Democrat -- Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb. -- has said he would oppose using reconciliation to enact health care changes. And the predictable GOP backlash could undermine public support and further aggravate partisan tensions on Capitol Hill. Among other constraints, reconciliation restricts floor debate to no more than 20 hours.

"To use budget reconciliation in this way would be to employ a legislative loophole to rewrite one-sixth of our economy with 20 hours of debate," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said at a late-September press conference. "If that option is chosen, I think there will be a severely negative and, frankly, appropriate reaction on the part of the American people that this process is jamming through something about which, in the end, we'll only have bipartisan opposition."

To be sure, partisan bickering is so vicious already that Democrats may conclude they've got nothing to lose...

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Fr. Phillips is the founding pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, the first Anglican Use parish, established on August 15, 1983. Not that there is any confusion, but he is on the left, shown in his younger, less gray-headed days.