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Not Even Al Franken Is Sure What The Senate Was Doing Last Night

Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends. Or something. The Senate pulled an all-nighter last night in a effort to “reconcile” the amendments to the health care bill. They were only sort of successful. Cue one of those times where you learn things about Senate procedure that you probably never knew (the sort of plot point West Wing episodes used to hinge on).

The short version is that the package of final changes to the health care bill is going back to the House for another vote. Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin is apparently the person in the Senate who decides “what is germane, under Senate rules” and last night he decided that not everything was reconcilable. From Reuters:

Alan Frumin upheld two Republican challenges under budget reconciliation rules, Senate Democratic aides said, requiring another vote by the House just days after it passed the package during a contentious debate Sunday.

The challenges involve the package’s revamp of the student loan program, said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid. … The ruling means 16 lines will be stricken from the bill, Manley said, but any change required House action once again.

So back to the House it goes! Meanwhile, Senator Al Franken, who was chairing the ‘vote-a-rama’ last night looked just as confused as many people will probably feel when they wake up to this news. When is it time to pound the gavel? Was the Senate adjourned or not!? Video below.

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