House and Senate Pass Budget Resolution Agreement that May Speed Passage of Health Reform
The House and Senate have approved a compromise budget resolution that sets parameters for spending and revenue legislation. As requested by the President, the budget resolution includes a reserve fund for health care reform initiatives that must be deficit-neutral for fiscal years 2009 through 2014 or fiscal years 2009 through 2019. The resolution allows Medicare physician payment legislation, that would likely prevent cuts to physician payment rates for two years, to be exempt from the deficit-neutral requirement.
The budget resolution also allows for the ability to consider health care reform legislation under the reconciliation process. Reconciliation is a procedure that Congress may use to make it easier to pass budget bills related to tax and entitlement spending programs. A reconciliation bill can not be filibustered as debate is limited to 20 hours, and this allows a bill to be passed quickly with a simple majority vote.