The Republican Plan To Kill Reconciliation

Filed in National by on January 26, 2010

The Republicans have a plan to defeat Democrats in the Senate trying to use reconciliation.

I asked a senior GOP Senate aide to explain the game plan for making this an “extraordinarily difficult exercise.” He said the leadership — Senators Mitch McConnell, Jon Kyl, Lamar Alexander, etc. — are discussing how to exploit the fact that the reconciliation process allows for an “open-ended amendment process.”

That means there’s no limit on the number of amendments GOPers can offer, the aide said, or on their subject matter. A senior Democratic aide confirmed that this is the case — and that it’s a concern weighing on Dems.

“If you bring a reconciliation bill to the Senate, it’s a free for all of amendments,” the GOP aide said, cautioning that this was only part of the overall strategy. “There is no way to limit the number of amendments that are voted on. You can’t close debate. Democrats will have to vote on every politically perilous amendment that you can possibly think of.”

In practice, the GOP aide said, this means that Republicans can offer amendments that aren’t even “germane” to the health care bill. He said Republicans would also exploit individual initiatives to “fix” the bill in order to force tough votes on Senate Dems.

For instance, the aide said, one of the provisions likely to be fixed in reconciliation is the protections Senator Bill Nelson secured for Floridians enrolled in Medicare advantage. Senate GOPers could “make everybody vote against allowing that same provision to be in place for their own constituents,” the aide says.

Reconciliation is difficult, but doable. So, who will lose if the Republicans try this tactic (besides the American people, that is)? Will it blowback on the Republicans or is this why the Democrats have turned into jelly?


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Comments (11)

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  1. Remember when Judd Gregg was going to be Commerce Secretary? I guess he has to act extra dickish now to make up for being nice to Obama once.

    It’s like we were saying – reconciliation is not risk free like it’s sometimes been portrayed. Democrats need to come up with a plan to deal with this. It’s one reason I think the House shouldn’t wait for the Senate to act. Extract the promise and PTDB.

  2. Got some officials nos on Senate reconciliation:
    Ben Nelson
    Probable no:

  3. anon says:

    We can afford 9 Dem “Nos,” those are the usual suspects so no prob so far.

  4. just kiddin' says:

    Moveon looking for 22 democrats to contact Senator Kaufman and Carper re: health care? Did you make your call yet. When I called Kaufman’s office, I was told “you need to call Pelosi or Reid’s office”. We are not in the leadership we are 96th in leadership. I said, well I would like to know where my Senator stands. She responded,CallReid or Peloisi. Is Kaufman waiting for the wink and the nod. He doesnt have a position and this is a guy some of you think should run for Senate?

    Carpers office: Senator Carper is for health care reform! Really I said, “does that mean he will support a public option provision”? She said, “I didnt say that, he will support the Senate Bill as is.

    Dont blame the republicans…blame our own lame ass bought off democrats.

  5. Edisonkitty says:

    Can’t a potential bill be broken into small components, each of which has ‘and no amendments shall be considered’ as part of it?

  6. I expect Landrieu and Lieberman to be nos as well. That leaves 54.

    I interpret Kaufman as saying he’ll fall in line with Reid and Carper as a fence-sitter.

  7. EK,

    Do you mean through reconciliation? I don’t think it works that way. I assume Democrats are looking at their possibilities right now.

  8. a.price says:

    let em do it. (the repubs that is) really stick it to them and vote Yes on every spending add-on, then hammer them in 2010 for making the health care bill cost a billion dollars more than the dems wanted…. “we WANTED to make it cost less, but the republican party refused to let the american people be healthy unless it cost this much”

    unintended consequence… it might make the bill better.

  9. Heh, like Republicans would add good amendments.

  10. Edisonkitty says:

    UI, Yes. It seems like if opponents want to use the letter of the law to thwart the intent of the reconcilliation process, the language could be written very specifically to prevent the interference.

  11. Edisonkitty says:

    a.price has a point. Republicans floated the idea that Congress would have to be in the public option as a poison pill amendment but it backfired when Democrats tried to cosponsor.