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Monday, April 2, 2012

Dirty Harry’s Little Secret

ObamaCare would face challenges from within Democratic Senate

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) is refusing to bring a budget resolution to the floor in order to protect Senate Democrats from having to cast a series of difficult election-year votes on amendments to the unpopular health care bill.

More than 1,000 days have passed since Senate Democrats last introduced a budget resolution, something Republicans have repeatedly criticized.

“Why is [Reid] prepared to take the grief of not proposing a budget?” asked Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee and one of Reid’s most outspoken critics. “Because the problems of not having one are worse than the grief he would take on health care, spending, taxes, if we ever had to vote on them.”

Other leading Republicans agree.

“Leader Reid has made it pretty clear he’s not going to bring up a budget because he doesn’t want his incumbents running for reelection to cast hard votes,” Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) told the Washington Free Beacon. “My understanding is that’s why we got elected.”

“The Senate Budget Committee should be doing something,” Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.) said. “The question is: why won’t they? We would have to take tough votes, and it’s an election year.”

The health care law, Sessions notes, would be a central focus of the debate that would ensue if Reid allowed a budget resolution to be brought to the Senate floor.

Pursuing a budget resolution would trigger an open amendment process—often called a “vote-a-rama”—comprising 50 hours of debate and dozens of votes on individual amendments offered by Senators.

That would allow Republicans to force simple majority votes, not subject to the standard 60-vote requirement, on individual aspects of the health care law as well as a measure to partially defund the new federal apparatus it created.

That would put Obamacare in serious jeopardy. The House of Representatives has already repealed the unpopular bill, and the Supreme Court may do the same to Obamacare’s key components.

“With the Supreme Court decision at hand, Obamacare is back in the news again, and it’s still unpopular,” one GOP Senate aide told the Free Beacon. “How many Democrats in swing states want to run, essentially, on voting multiple times to support it?”

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