During the March 27 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, correspondent Molly Henneberg falsely claimed that "[r]econciliation was last used in 2001 by Republicans to pass the first Bush tax cuts." In fact, Republicans used the budget reconciliation process to pass several major Bush initiatives after 2001, as the blog Think Progress recently noted. These initiatives include the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005. Reconciliation was used as recently as 2007, when the Democratic Congress passed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act.
During her report, Henneberg described reconciliation as a "maneuver" that congressional Democrats may use "to achieve some of President Obama's more controversial budget priorities, including health-care reform and a cap-and-trade energy policy."
As Media Matters for America documented, Fox News host Sean Hannity recently made the false claim that reconciliation would allow the Obama administration to pass legislation "without any Republicans even having an opportunity to vote."
From the March 27 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
BRET BAIER (anchor): While several Democratic lawmakers have taken steps to trim the president's budget, others are trying to use parliamentary shortcuts to preserve some of his most ambitious initiatives. Correspondent Molly Henneberg reports.
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HENNEBERG: House and Senate Democrats are holding out the possibility of using a maneuver called reconciliation to achieve some of President Obama's more controversial budget priorities, including health-care reform and a cap-and-trade energy policy. Political analysts say reconciliation makes it easier for the majority to get bills, which are attached to the budget through Congress, especially through the Senate.
J.D. FOSTER (Heritage Foundation senior fellow): Because of the reconciliation instructions, you don't have a right to filibuster. You can raise some -- offer amendments and raise objections, but, ultimately, it's going to take 51 votes to move the legislation forward, not 60.
HENNEBERG: The 60 votes that are usually needed in the Senate to stop a filibuster and pass a bill. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid [NV] has said nothing is off the table when it comes to reconciliation. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who has watched many House-passed bills die in the Senate, says the future of health-care reform may depend on it.
PELOSI: I think the best prospect for that to happen is to do it under reconciliation.
HENNEBERG: Reconciliation was last used in 2001 by Republicans to pass the first Bush tax cuts, but now the GOP is furious the Democrats may use it to pass potentially sweeping energy and health-care reform.
REP. PETE HOEKSTRA (R-MI): They're going to have a major impact on the country, and to put them through a process that will not allow for a full debate is absolutely outrageous.
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