The Los Angeles Times reported Sen. Mitch McConnell's criticism of Democrats' potential use of the reconciliation process to pass health-care reform without noting that he repeatedly voted in favor of using reconciliation to pass the Bush tax cuts.
In an April 24 Los Angeles Times article, staff writer Peter Nicholas quoted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) assertion that if Democrats use the budget reconciliation process to advance health-care reform legislation, it would “make it absolutely clear that they intend to carry out all of their plans on a purely partisan basis. Look ... we expect to be a part of the process.” Nicholas also reported that “GOP leaders have cautioned Democrats not to resort to such shortcuts.” However, Nicholas did not mention that congressional Republicans -- including McConnell himself -- voted to allow the use of the budget reconciliation process to pass major Bush administration initiatives. Indeed, in an April 1 article, Nicholas' Times colleague, Noam N. Levey, noted: “Republicans oppose Democrats' using the procedure, know as the 'reconciliation process,' although the GOP used it to pass major tax legislation when they were in the majority.”
As Media Matters for America has noted, Republicans used the reconciliation process to pass 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, among others. In a March 28 article, The New York Times reported: "[T]here are a couple of problems for Republicans as they push back furiously against the idea, chief of which is the fact that they used the process themselves on several occasions, notably when enacting more than $1 trillion in tax cuts in 2001." The article continued:
That means critics can have a field day lampooning Republicans and asking them -- as Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, did repeatedly the other day -- why reconciliation was such a good idea when it came to giving tax cuts to millionaires but such a bad one when it comes to trying to provide health care to average Americans.
McConnell 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. McConnell subsequently voted for the tax cut bill itself.
Further, in 2003, McConnell 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, McConnell voted for the final version of the fiscal 2005 budget resolution, which also called for tax cuts through reconciliation. McConnell subsequently voted for the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 itself.
As Media Matters noted, The Washington Post previously repeated criticism from Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Arlen Specter (R-PA), and Judd Gregg (R-NH) regarding Democrats' potential use of reconciliation to pass health-care reform legislation without noting that those senators supported the use of reconciliation to pass the Bush tax cuts.
From the April 24 Los Angeles Times article, “Tensions between Democrats, Republicans mount”:
In a news conference Thursday, AFSCME President Gerald McEntee blamed Republicans for the divisiveness.
“They're not interested in collaboration with this president,” McEntee said, adding: “I haven't even seen a healthcare plan from these birds yet. ... And you look at [Obama's] favorability in terms of the polls and look at theirs, and it seems they're all in the truck and they're going to drive it over a cliff. Well, maybe they should.”
But Democratic leaders in the House have staked out positions on healthcare that offer little room for compromise with the GOP. Senate Democrats are poised to join their House counterparts in approving the use of a procedure that would let them pass a healthcare bill without the 60-vote supermajority needed to block a filibuster. GOP leaders have cautioned Democrats not to resort to such shortcuts.
Healthcare efforts will test the parties' commitment to operating in collegial fashion. Democrats are considering a tactic called reconciliation, which would enable the Senate to pass Obama's plan with a simple 51-vote majority. Though they enjoy majorities in both chambers, Democrats don't have the 60 Senate votes needed to stave off a filibuster.
McConnell recently said that reconciliation would “make it absolutely clear that they intend to carry out all of their plans on a purely partisan basis. Look ... we expect to be a part of the process.”
Advocates of a new healthcare system said that, optimally, a bill would win bipartisan support. But they said that if the GOP won't go along, Democrats would be justified in using the brute strength of their majority status.