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Alan Frumin: King of Capitol Hill?

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tosh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-22-09 06:56 AM
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Alan Frumin: King of Capitol Hill?
Alan Frumin: King of Capitol Hill?

By Katie Connolly and Daniel Stone

Keen followers of health-care reform are about to become entranced by the workings of a man most have never heard of until now: Alan Frumin. No, he's not the sausage king of Chicago. He's the Senate Parliamentarian. Those who've watched Senate sessions on C-Span have probably seen the unassuming Frumin perched on the dais advising the Presiding Officer on arcane procedural regulations. These days, it's looking ever more likely that if health-care reform is to be passed this year, it won't be because of Barack Obama. It will be because of Frumin. His rulings could make or break the entire bill.

With hopes for bipartisan agreement on reform growing more fanciful by the day, Democrats are considering using the budget reconciliation process to pass the more contentious aspects of reform. Reconciliation circumvents filibuster rules, so that a bill can be passed with a simple 51-vote majority rather than the 60 votes ordinarily needed to shut down a filibuster and proceed to a vote. But only certain types of legislation qualify to be considered under reconciliation. This caveat is enforced by the Byrd rule. Named after its original sponsor, Robert Byrd, the rule is designed to prevent reconciliation from being used to pass non-budget-related legislation. Before it was passed in 1985, senators had tried to push their entire legislative agenda through reconciliation. It's abstruse language, however, renders it subject to interpretation. Alan Frumin is the man charged with delivering that interpretation.

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