The Senate voted 51 to 48 early Thursday to approve a budget resolution instructing House and Senate committees to begin work on legislation to repeal major portions of the Affordable Care Act. The House is expected to take up the legislation Friday.

 Senate action came eight days after Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) introduced the budget resolution for the remainder of fiscal year 2017 to begin the process to repeal and replace parts of the ACA.

 The resolution instructs the four authorizing committees – House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce and Senate Finance and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions – to achieve at least $1 billion each in savings in FYs 2017 through 2026 using the budget reconciliation process.

 The advantage of the reconciliation process is that it requires only 51 votes for passage in the Senate rather than the usual 60 votes. All items included in reconciliation legislation must either save or spend money; overall, the legislation also must reduce the federal deficit. The resolution instructs the committees to submit their legislation to their respective Budget Committee by Jan. 27, 2017.

 The separate bills would then be combined for floor consideration. The budget resolution also includes the establishment of reserve funds for replacing the ACA.

Click on this AHA video to learn more about reconciliation, including the process, rules, limitations and significance.