What’s Next for Obamacare: Harry Reid’s Procedural Attacks

Lauren Victoria Burke/WDCPIX.COM

“If you let me write the procedure and I let you write the substance, I’ll [beat] you every time.”

Representative John Dingell (D-MI), the longest serving member in the history of Congress, understands that congressional procedure dictates policy. It is important for opponents of Obamacare to understand Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) shares that approach, and he will be setting the procedure for the Senate’s upcoming debate on the House-passed year-end funding bill that permanently defunds Obamacare.

According to multiple media reports, Senators will engage in procedural gymnastics this week with the explicit goal of removing the defunding language from the House-passed bill. Over the weekend, Heritage Action explained the importance procedure would play this week:

Before Reid can move to eliminate the defunding language, he must first secure 60 votes to invoke cloture. That vote, which is likely to come late next week, is a procedural motion that would facilitate efforts by Reid and others to strip the defunding language from H.J.Res.59. If Reid uses this procedural trick, a vote on the motion to invoke cloture is a vote to undermine the House-passed bill.

At some point this week, the Senate will vote to end debate on the House-passed bill. (In Washington speak, they will vote to “invoke cloture.”) What does this mean? Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) told Politico he would “vote to end debate on it, because [he likes] the policy.” But there is just one small problem: The vote is not on the underlying policy, but rather the procedure Reid has dictated. On Twitter, NBC’s Tom Curry pointed out pro-Obamacare Senators would vote alongside Sen. Corker “So that Majority Leader Reid can offer a motion to strike the defund Obamacare provision from the [continuing resolution] CR then vote on the clean CR.”

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Curry is exactly right. If the Senate does vote to end debate, Reid will immediately move to strike the defunding language. Because of the nature of the Senate’s rules, Reid would not need 60 votes; he could do so with a bare majority of just 51 votes.

Throughout August, Americans demanded that Congress fund the government but defund all of Obamacare. If anti-Obamacare Senators stand together, they can stop Harry Reid’s procedural assault.

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