Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) began to make the case on Tuesday for using a majority-vote process to move the final piece of health care reform through the Senate and he slammed the procedure's GOP critics. Known as budget reconciliation, the maneuver requires 51 votes and can't be filibustered.
The GOP has been demanding that Democrats take reconciliation off the table in advance of a bipartisan health care summit on Thursday.
"I would recommend they go back and look at history. Since 1981, reconciliation has been used 21 times," Reid told reporters after the weekly lunch with his Democratic caucus.
He insisted that Democrats would go to the bipartisan summit with an open mind and attempt to win Republican support, but if that didn't happen, "nothing's off the table."
"Realistically, they should stop crying about reconciliation as if it's never been done before," Reid advised the GOP. It's been done in almost every Congress. And they're the ones who used it more than anyone else."
Reid then rattled off a list of Republican legislative achievements that were pushed through the Senate. "Most of the stuff in the Contract for America was done with reconciliation; tax cuts, done with reconciliation; Medicare [prescription drug benefits], done with reconciliation," said Reid.
For background on and a history of reconciliation, see this report.