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Reconciliation: Happening Now!

Today, the Senate takes up amendments on H.R. 4872, The Health Care & Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010, with a final vote as early as tomorrow preceding the President’s signature. If even one word were changed, the bill would have to go back to the House for an additional vote on the new language. Republicans are expected to offer some 32 amendments this afternoon, though lawmakers could have hundreds more in waiting, as there is no rule on maximum number of amendments. Democrats will not offer amendments, and voting requires a simple majority for acceptance/denial.

Early reports show that some of the amendments are meant to put Democrats in an awkward position in voting ‘No,’ such as Senator Tom Coburn’s expected amendment to “prohibit coverage of Viagra for child molesters and rapists.” Most, though, will be challenges to budgetary aspects of the bill, where the Senate Parliamentarian could rule against any specific provision in the bill. The bill’s authors are certain that they have crafted the legislation to meet all budgetary requirements. Any changes shouldn’t be a major setback for the legislation as they would most likely not be substantial enough for House members to vote differently if needed, though the bill’s proponents would much prefer to have the Senate vote be the final chapter in this saga.

Here is our summary of the changes within the Reconciliation Act

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