VandeHei uncritically repeats Gregg's reconciliation criticism
The Politico's Jim VandeHei stated that Sen. Judd Gregg is "angry" because "Democrats were able to get this thing called reconciliation inserted into" the proposed 2010 budget, but did not note that Republicans, including Gregg, repeatedly supported using reconciliation to pass several Bush initiatives.
During the April 28 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, referring to Sen. Judd Gregg's (R-NH) objections to a reported agreement between House and Senate Democrats on a fiscal year 2010 budget, Politico executive editor Jim VandeHei stated: "I think the real reason he's angry, though, is because Democrats were able to get this thing called reconciliation inserted into there." VandeHei's statement echoed an April 27 Politico article  by senior congressional reporter David Rogers that quoted Gregg stating of the budget deal, "I can understand shaking Hugo Chavez's hand, but I can't understand embracing his politics ... cutting down the minority." However, VandeHei did not note that Republicans, including Gregg, repeatedly supported using the budget reconciliation process  during the Bush administration.
As Media Matters for America has documented , as Budget Committee chairman in 2005, Gregg was one of 51 senators who voted against  striking language from the budget resolution allowing the reconciliation process to be used to permit oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and introduced a reconciliation bill  that, as originally introduced  in and passed by  the Senate, included a provision to open up the refuge. (The bill as enacted  did not contain such a provision.)
Rogers did note in his article that "Republicans have used the same process in the past to push through tax cuts -- most notably in 2003 when then-Vice President Dick Cheney broke a 50-50 tie." Indeed, Republicans used the reconciliation process to pass several major Bush administration initiatives in addition to the effort to open up the refuge to drilling, including the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 , the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 , and the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 . But neither VandeHei nor Rogers noted that Gregg supported the use of reconciliation to pass these initiatives.
Gregg was one of 51 senators -- all 50 Republicans and Sen. Zell Miller (D-GA) -- who voted  in favor of a 2001 amendment  to the fiscal year 2002 budget resolution  that allowed for the consideration of President Bush's 2001 tax cuts -- the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001  -- through the reconciliation process. Gregg subsequently voted  for the tax cut bill itself.
Further, in 2003, Gregg voted for  the Senate version of the fiscal 2004 budget resolution  that called  for additional tax cuts to be considered under reconciliation and for  the final version of the 2004 budget resolution . He also voted against  an amendment to the Senate version of the budget resolution, proposed by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), that would have stripped reconciliation instructions from the resolution. In 2005, Gregg voted for  the final version of the fiscal 2006 budget resolution, which also called  for tax cuts through reconciliation. He subsequently voted for  the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 itself.
From the April 28 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
WILLIE GEIST (co-host): Good morning to you, Jim, what are you looking at?
VANDEHEI: Morning. How you guys doing?
GEIST: All right.
VANDEHEI: Well, the budget, you know, lost in all this coverage of the flu, the Democrats got a deal last night on the budget, and if you remember Judd Gregg, who was Obama's pick to be Commerce secretary, he's a Republican from New Hampshire, he's livid over the budget deal. And so he called us last night and lashed out at it, said Democrats are rubes, said they've been bamboozled by Obama, and said that the European Union won't even accept the United States into its club given the size of this budget.
I think the real reason he's angry, though, is because Democrats were able to get this thing called reconciliation inserted into there, which will make it a lot easier for them to get health care reform this year. Rahm Emanuel and others tell us that they are very, very confident that they can get a big health care reform bill done before the end of the year. That'd be a huge Obama victory.
From Rogers' April 27 Politico article:
"I can understand shaking Hugo Chavez's hand, but I can't understand embracing his politics ... cutting down the minority," said Sen. Judd Gregg in a pointed allusion to Obama's encounter with the Venezuelan strongman at the recent Summit of the Americas.
The more immediate fight will be health care, where the budget gives Obama an invaluable backstop if Republicans attempt to stall this initiative past Oct. 15. Conrad said Democrats are still hopeful that a bipartisan deal can be reached prior to that. But if that fails, then the budget would trigger a process allowing the Senate to consider the issue on an expedited basis in which Democrats would no longer need 60 votes to cut off debate.
Republicans have used the same process in the past to push through tax cuts -- most notably in 2003 when then-Vice President Dick Cheney broke a 50-50 tie. But health care is an even more far-reaching endeavor in many respects, and critics have warned that the results could be frustrating for all involved.