Connie Hair at Human Events thinks so. She points to a hearing held by Charlie Rangel in the House Ways and Means Committee that apparently certified the House version of health care reform as meeting the requirements to become part of the "budget reconciliation process."
The bill certified for "reconciliation" is the Ways & Means version of H.R. 3200 that was passed out of committee before the August break, and before it was read aloud at town hall meetings across the country and blasted by voters across the country.As this Fox News report shows, Rep. Paul Ryan also believes this presages the use of the nuclear option:
t contains all of the horrors previously exposed: federal funding of abortion, coverage for illegal aliens, comparative effectiveness, healthcare rationing, deep cuts to Medicare. Everything the American people overwhelmingly reject.
No amendments were allowed at the hearing and no debate. Rangel told Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the ranking Republican on the committee, that he would not have preferred to do it this way, but leadership -- i.e., Speaker Pelosi -- forced his hand.
While the media cameras are focused on Harry Reid's office door, the House of Representatives has made it possible for H.R. 3200 to pass the Senate with 51 votes. It is still possible that Senator Reid won't choose to use reconciliation in the Senate, but the odds against it are infinitesimal.
"The secret of the week is that Democrats pulled the trigger on the nuclear option," warned Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., top Republican on the House budget committee and a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee. "They built their vehicle today."
But Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., said the committee's maneuver "is strictly procedural."
He noted, however, that the "action was necessary because there is a possibility that a handful of Senate Republicans could choose to engage in partisan tactics to stall this important health reform bill."
Rangel added that this move was to "simply preserve the option of advancing health reform legislation."
There are questions of how much of the health reform bill supporters could pass under reconciliation rules, since they are generally reserved for budgetary measures.
But Ryan believes the change in posture means that using reconciliation to pass health care reform could be a fait accompli.
"Why create the option if you don't intend to use it," he said. "And the fact that you created it enhances the chances that you will use it."
Are the Democrats really getting ready to use the nuclear option in the Senate?
I think Hair is slightly overstating the case regarding Harry Reid's decision to go nuclear. There are more than a few Democrats in the Senate who are opposed to the idea - including Robert Byrd whose word on parliamentary procedures still carries much weight. Some of the more moderate members like Kent Conrad are also uncomfortable about invoking the nuclear option. Other Democrats are worried that the GOP response will be so dramatic that it will doom Obama's agenda for the foreseeable future.
But Ryan and Hair are correct in saying that everything will soon be ready for Reid to go with the nuclear option on health care reform if he wants to.