If the Pelosi argument that ObamaCare was really a jobs bill qualified as the weirdest moment of the summit, then Harry Reid’s laughable backpedal on reconciliation was the most dishonest. Democrats have threatened to use reconciliation for weeks, ever since the Senate passed a bill that no one thought had a prayer of getting enough votes in the House. Even Robert Gibbs talked about reconciliation as a strategy to get a bill passed. And the NRSC reminds Harry Reid that he offered it just six days ago as a potential solution to the Democratic dilemma … on television, no less:
Where’s Joe Wilson when we need him?
In 1993, my own Democratic leadership–now, listen to this. In 1993, my own Democratic leadership pleaded with me. How many of my friends on the Republican side today would stand as firm as the Rock of Gibraltar as I did on that occasion? The Democratic leadership pleaded with me at length to agree to support the idea that the Clinton health care bill should be included in that year’s reconciliation package. They came to my office on the floor below. Not only did Majority Leader George Mitchell and others of my colleagues attempt to persuade me to go along and not raise a point of order under the Byrd rule, which would require 60 votes to waive, President Clinton got on the phone and called me also and pressed me to allow his massive health care bill to be insulated by reconciliation’s protection. He called me on the telephone. Here is the President of the United States calling this lowly former coal town boy and asking me to let his huge health bill come before the Senate on that fast track. I could not, in good conscience, however, look the other way and not make that point of order and allow what would clearly have been an abuse of congressional intent to occur.
How many others would do that today on that side of the aisle, stand against their President. Well, perhaps that is not too important.
I felt that changes as dramatic as the Clinton health care package, which would affect every man, woman, and child in the United States, should be subject to scrutiny. I said: Mr. President, I cannot in good conscience turn my face the other way. That is why we have a Senate–to amend and to debate freely–and that health bill, important as it is, is so complex, so far reaching that the people of this country need to know what is in it and, moreover, Mr. President, we Senators need to know what is in it.
Not too many appear to consider important now. I wonder if Byrd himself still does.