Actually, It’s 50 Votes, Not 51

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From Monday’s Washington Post:

Increasingly, the White House appears to favor having the House pass a version of the measure that cleared the Senate with 60 votes in December. The Senate would then pass changes to the bill to satisfy some demands of House Democrats. That Senate vote would take place under a parliamentary procedure known as reconciliation, which requires 51 votes rather than 60.

If this is President Barack Obama’s path to health care reform—and it seems like his only option at this point (though I’m told some in the White House have not given up on the idea of a bipartisan deal)—he won’t need 51 votes in the Senate. He will need 50. On a 50-50 tie, Vice President Joe Biden will get to be the decider. That would, no doubt, prompt futher howls from Republicans who already are trying to denigrate reconciliation as the absolute antithesis of constitutional democracy. But a close win is a win, whether it’s with 51 or 50 votes. And given that the vote count in the Senate seems unclear but rather close, it’s important for anyone following the debate to realize that the magic number is 50, not 50-plus-one.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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