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March 01, 2010


In his Twitter roundup, Brendan has pointed to an answer to the question I and others asked him. The question is: Has the Senate reconciliation procedure ever been used before to pass a highly partisan bill that, absent reconciliation, would have been blocked by a filibuster? The answer is the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993.

From the Wikipedia entry on the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993:

"Ultimately every Republican in Congress voted against the bill, as did a number of Democrats. Vice President Al Gore broke a tie in the Senate on both the Senate bill and the conference report. The House bill passed 219-213.[1] The House passed the conference report on Thursday, August 5, 1993, by a vote of 218 to 216 (217 Democrats and 1 independent (Sanders (VT-I)) voting in favor; 41 Democrats and 175 Republicans voting against), and the Senate passed the conference report on the last day before their month's vacation, on Friday, August 6, 1993, by a vote of 51 to 50 (50 Democrats plus Vice President Gore voting in favor, 6 Democrats (Lautenberg (D-NJ), Bryan (D-NV), Nunn (D-GA), Johnston (D-LA), Boren (D-OK), and Shelby (D-AL) now (R-AL)) and 44 Republicans voting against). President Clinton signed the bill on August 10, 1993."

Note this was a budget bill, the type of bill the reconciliation process was created to manage, not a massive public policy-changing bill like ObamaCare. But the 1993 budget bill does appear to be a valid historical example of the majority party using reconciliation to pass a partisan bill against a unified minority who could have mounted a successful filibuster had the minority possessed that option.

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