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Feb 23 2010

Hatch Calls on President to Renounce Use of Controversial ‘Reconciliation' to Jam Health Care Bill Through Congress

In Letter to President, Utah Senator Says Use of this Tactic Would Signal That Washington Continues to Ignore American People’s Voice

WASHINGTON – In a letter to President Obama today, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, urged the President to “publicly renounce the unprecedented use of reconciliation…before the commencement of the health reform summit” slated to take place on Thursday, February 25. House and Senate Democrats have been considering using reconciliation, a procedural tactic to bypass long-standing Senate rules, to pass a $2.5 trillion health care proposal that is not only overwhelmingly opposed by the American people, but Democrats and Republicans in Congress as well.

“I urge you to publicly renounce the unprecedented use of reconciliation on this issue of national importance and magnitude before the commencement of the health reform summit on February 25, 2010,” Hatch wrote. “This action will go a long way in reigniting much-needed spirit of cooperation in Washington, which suffered another blow with the last minute breakdown of the bipartisan job-creation legislation.”

Hatch, a member of the Finance Committee, has been critical of a decision by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) to scrap bipartisan, compromise job legislation put forward by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Montana) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that included $45 billion in tax relief – opting instead to move forward in a highly-partisan way that puts politics first.

Below is the full letter that Senator Hatch sent to President Obama today:

February 22, 2010

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Health care reform is not a Republican or Democrat issue - it is an American issue. Our nation expects us to solve this challenge in an open, honest and bipartisan manner.

Any successful health care reform proposal must be subject to the full scrutiny of both parties of the Senate and House of Representatives, and the American people. Using the budget reconciliation process, in the Senate for example, would limit debate to only 20 hours and restrict the ability of Senators to amend a proposal that is intended to steer one-sixth of our economy in a new direction. It would be a tremendous disservice to the American people and our nation.

Last March, I authored a letter with all of my Republican colleagues to the House and Senate leadership opposing the use of reconciliation on the critical issue of health care reform. In fact, the same month, Senators Robert Byrd (D-WV), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Robert Casey (D-PA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Carl Levin (D-MI), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Mark Pryor (D-AR) joined a bipartisan letter condemning the use of budget reconciliation process to expedite the passage of cap-and-trade legislation. The letter stated: “Using this procedure would circumvent normal Senate practice and would be inconsistent with the Administration’s stated goals of bipartisanship, cooperation and openness.” We can all agree that this sentiment would apply just as vigorously to the critical issue of health care reform which would impact every American life and business.

The use of expedited reconciliation process to push through more dramatic changes to a health care bill of such size, scope and magnitude is unprecedented. It would severely limit the deliberation and consideration of thoughts and concerns from both sides of the aisle. The American people deserve an open and vigorous dialogue on this critical legislation and the use of this process would be a clear signal that Washington continues to ignore their voices.

I urge you to publicly renounce the unprecedented use of reconciliation on this issue of national importance and magnitude before the commencement of the health reform summit on February 25, 2010. This action will go a long way in reigniting much need spirit of cooperation in Washington which suffered another blow with the last minute breakdown of the bipartisan job-creation legislation.

Let us collectively pledge our support for a fresh start on a bipartisan and fiscally responsible legislation that we can all be proud of. The American public deserves no less.

Sincerely,

Orrin G. Hatch
U.S. SENATOR