Republicans are using the budget "reconciliation" process to pass their health care bill, which allows them to push legislation through the Senate with a simple majority. But that depends on the bill meeting certain requirements -- and one of them is that it reduces the deficit by at least $2 billion over the next decade.The trouble is that Republicans voted on their House bill without waiting for the Congressional Budget Office, the federal agency that evaluates legislation, to finish its projections, which are expected next week.
Two weeks ago, House Republicans dragged their regressive and unpopular health care bill across the finish line, just barely eking out a majority. GOP lawmakers then celebrated like they'd just won the Super Bowl, laughing it up in the Rose Garden with Donald Trump.It was simply assumed at the time that the House would follow the normal procedures, send the bill to the Senate for consideration, and wait to see what happens in the upper chamber. That, however, did not happen.House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said this morning that the House would "probably" send the bill that's already passed over to the Senate "in a couple of weeks."Why not send it now? Indeed, why hasn't it been sent already? As NBC News reported, it's because the House may have to pass the bill again.
Chances are, the House will not need to vote again, but there's a chance the Congressional Budget Office's report, which is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, will find that the current GOP legislation doesn't meet the standards for reconciliation.Ashlee Strong, a spokeswoman for Paul Ryan, told NBC News, "The bill is just being held until CBO issues its final score," That's funny, it seems like just two weeks ago that Ashlee Strong was pretending the CBO has already scored the Republican plan."We just want to, out of an abundance of caution, wait to send the bill over to the Senate when we get the final score," Ryan told Hugh Hewitt this morning.In other words, from the Speaker's perspective, the proper legislative order is as follows: first pass the bill, then learn about the bill, then send the bill to the other chamber.Remember, Ryan and his GOP allies could've waited for the Congressional Budget Office to issue a report on the legislation before they voted on it, but Republicans chose willful ignorance: they didn't want to know what their bill would cost -- and they didn't want to know how many Americans would lose their health security -- because the more facts policymakers had at their disposal, the more likely it would be their bill would fail.Ryan and Republican leaders deliberately rushed the bill through with less information because ignorance was a central element of their strategy.It's emblematic of contemporary GOP governance that this may now come back to haunt them.