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Did the Senate Parliamentarian Just Kill Obamacare?

3:39 PM, Mar 11, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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This is big, big news (if true):

The Senate Parliamentarian has ruled that President Barack Obama must sign Congress’ original health care reform bill before the Senate can act on a companion reconciliation package, senior GOP sources said Thursday.

The Senate Parliamentarian’s Office was responding to questions posed by the Republican leadership. The answers were provided verbally, sources said.

House Democratic leaders have been searching for a way to ensure that any move they make to approve the Senate-passed $871 billion health care reform bill is followed by Senate action on a reconciliation package of adjustments to the original bill. One idea is to have the House and Senate act on reconciliation prior to House action on the Senate’s original health care bill.

Information Republicans say they have received from the Senate Parliamentarian’s Office eliminates that option. House Democratic leaders last week began looking at crafting a legislative rule that would allow the House to approve the Senate health care bill, but not forward it to Obama for his signature until the Senate clears the reconciliation package.

House Democrats do not trust the Senate; they do not want to pass the Senate bill--with all the special deals in it--and hope the Senate will fix these problems and others later. Even Democrat Michael Capuano of Massachusetts is expressing very grave concerns about passing the Senate bill unamended.

If this report is true, the parliamentarian's ruling seems to nix the "Slaughter Solution," whereby the House would deem the Senate bill passed only after the reconciliation bill is passed by both the House and the Senate.

So where do Democrats go from here? One possibility is that Harry Reid will fire the Senate parliamentarian.

If Democrats really think they can get away with such a heavy-handed move in the first place, they might as well replace the parliamentarian with Rahm Emanuel and kill two birds with one stone.

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