The Corner

Ryan: ‘This Is Their Do-or-Die Moment’

“Game on,” says Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, to National Review Online. “The Democrats are moving on reconciliation. They are revving up their machine, even though they don’t yet have the votes to pass the Senate bill in the House. This is their do-or-die moment. They know can’t let their members go home for Easter with this hanging out there.”

Ryan says that, come Monday, Democrats “will bring a shell piece of reconciliation legislation” to the budget committee. “The reconciliation process has to begin there,” he says. “Here’s what they’ll do: They will take the House health-care bill and mark it up so that it can become a reconciliation vehicle. Republicans will make runs at this via motions to instruct, but since we’re outnumbered, their package will get through the committee. Then they’ll send that shell of a bill to the House Rules Committee. The rules committee will then gut the budget committee’s reconciliation bill and drop in all of the deals that Speaker Pelosi arranges with members who vote for the Senate health-care bill in the House.” Those deals, he adds, “will be hard to scrutinize, and we may never know their full extent, since many of them will be orchestrated outside of health-care legislation.”

Regardless of how bad a reconciliation package looks, Ryan says it is the passage of the Senate bill in the House that troubles him the most. “The Senate parliamentarian made it clear today,” he says. “The Senate bill has to become law before reconciliation can be taken up in the Senate. Knowing this, the Democrats are doing whatever they can to convince House members to walk the plank. But let’s be very clear: If the Senate bill passes in the House, it’s not just some setup for reconciliation – it’s a huge, new federal entitlement that’ll be signed into law.”

“To get that, they need to make promises to members about what’ll come next, so look for them to thread the needle on policy changes and abortion in the budget and rules committees,” Ryan says. “Reconciliation is a distraction for the Democratic leadership – something to talk about with members while keeping their eye on the main prize, which is passing the Senate bill.”

Robert Costa — Robert Costa is National Review's Washington editor and a CNBC political analyst. He manages NR's Capitol Hill bureau and covers the White House, Congress, and national campaigns. ...

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