“It's their right. They did win the election,” said Ryan, R-Wis. “That’s what I tell all my constituents who are worried about this. They won the election. They did run on these ideas. They did run on nationalizing health care. So, you're right about that. They have the votes with reconciliation. They nailed down the process so that they can make sure they have the votes and that they can get this thing through really fast. It is their right. It is what they can do.”
He's right, they do. The Republicans used budget reconciliation repeatedly during the Bush years, the Reign of St. Ronnie, and while Uncle Bill was in the White House.
While Republicans seem to be experiencing a particular form of political amnesia from the Bush years, they ought to be reminded that budget reconciliation has been used by several other presidents, including Clinton and Reagan. In fact, Republicans -- with Bond and Gregg among the leaders of the charge -- were instrumental in pushing through key provisions of their signature legislative agenda, the Contract with America, using budget reconciliation.
Here's a few examples.
Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1980
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981
Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1982
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1983
Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993
Balanced Budget Act of 1995 (vetoed)
Personal Responsibility and Budget Reconciliation Act of 1996
Balanced Budget Act of 1997
Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997
Taxpayer Refund and Relief Act of 1999 (vetoed)
Marriage Tax Relief Act of 2000 (vetoed)
Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001
Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003
The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005
Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005
But Republican senators are prepared to go "nuclear" -- essentially shutting down the Senate through the use of parliamentary maneuvers -- if President Obama attempts to use budget reconciliation to pass key parts of his legislative agenda, such as health care reform and cap-and-trade. Reconciliation allows some legislation to be protected from filibusters and passed by a simple majority. On NPR this morning, Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) repeated a now familiar attack on budget reconciliation:
BOND: "In this post-partisan time of Barack Obama, we're seeing a little Chicago politics. They steamroller those who disagree with them, then, I guess in Chicago, they coat them in cement and drop them in the river." [NPR, 3/24/09]
Despite their howls against Obama, Republicans employed the same procedure to pass major Bush agenda items....
-- The 2001 Bush Tax Cuts [HR 1836, 3/26/01]
-- The 2003 Bush Tax Cuts [HR 2, 3/23/03]
-- Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 [HR 4297, 5/11/06]
-- The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 [H. Con Res. 95, 12/21/05]
.......Gregg defended using the reconciliation procedure to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for domestic drilling in 2005, arguing, "The president asked for it, and we’re trying to do what the president asked for." Evidently, Gregg has lost the same sense of patriotic duty.
Well, the shoe is on the other foot now....and it doesn't seem to be fitting to good for the Rethuglicans.
Special thanks to the fine folks at Think Progress.