Thursday, November 12, 2015

Another Train Wreck for McConnell

You might remember that back in early 2010 Senate Democrats used a rule called budget reconciliation to by-pass a Republican filibuster and tweak their version of the Affordable Care Act to make it consistent with the one in the House. As a result, Republicans had a bit of a hissy fit, making the dubious claim that a simple majority vote in the Senate signaled the end of democracy as we know it.

In a move that should break all of our irony meters, Senate Republicans will soon attempt to use that same budget reconciliation rule in an attempt to dismantle the Affordable Care Act with a simple majority vote on a bill that has already passed the House. And we wonder why the practice of politics gets a bad name.

But hold onto your hats. This one is running into some trouble because, even with 54 Republicans in the Senate, McConnell is going to have trouble rounding up the 51 votes he needs.

The first problem comes from the Senate's version of insurgents - Cruz, Rubio and Lee - who say that simply throwing a monkey wrench into Obamacare is not enough.
“On Friday the House of Representatives is set to vote on a reconciliation bill that repeals only parts of ObamaCare. This simply isn’t good enough. Each of us campaigned on a promise to fully repeal ObamaCare and a reconciliation bill is the best way to send such legislation to President Obama’s desk,” the three senators said.
The House version of the bill also contains provisions that defund Planned Parenthood - which is a problem for some Republican Senators representing more moderate states.
But if the Planned Parenthood provision is in the final bill — Senate Republican aides say no final decisions have been made — a handful of votes from the moderate wing could also break away. They include Murkowski, and Sens. Mark Kirk of Illinois and Susan Collins of Maine.
And now a third front of opposition has opened up.
“I am very concerned about the 160,000 people who had Medicaid expansion in my state. I have difficulty with that being included,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from West Virginia...

Sen. John Hoeven (R), who represents North Dakota, where an estimated 19,000 people gained access to Medicaid after Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple decided to broaden the program, said he was unsure about repealing the expansion.

“I respect the decision of our legislator and our governor on Medicaid expansion,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R) of Montana, which has a Democratic governor. “I’m one who respects their rights and voices.”
Wow, Republicans revolting against the elimination of the Medicaid expansion. Imagine that!

But when you risk losing Republicans from red states like West Virginia, North Dakota and Montana, just imagine what that means to incumbents running for re-election in places like Illinois, Ohio, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.

Mitch McConnell proved himself to be a master at corralling Republicans into line to obstruct everything the Democratic majority tried to do for six years. But the job of getting them together to actually pass legislation has proven to be a much more difficult task. The fact that this particular effort will simply result in a presidential veto - even if successful - shouldn't be lost on anyone. It is increasingly looking like another train wreck for McConnell.


  1. So it's not enough that a partial repeal be vetoed, we need to have an entire repeal get vetoed! GOP logic in action!

  2. He won't have to worry about those majority leader headaches come 2017.


  3. "You might remember that back in early 2010 Senate Democrats used a rule called budget reconciliation to by-pass a Republican filibuster and tweak their version of the Affordable Care Act to make it consistent with the one in the House."

    If I may, I think that's just a little bit off. The House Democrats first passed the Senate version of the ACA without any changes -- and Obama signed it into law, making the Senate version the law of the land -- but House Democrats agreed to pass it with the understanding that there would be a subsequent reconciliation bill to tweak some parts of it, for example removing the Cornhusker Kickback. And that is indeed what happened.

    Reconciliation confuses people inordinately, but in a nutshell: if a bill meets a very narrow set of parameters (such as does not establish new policy or obligate the government to increased spending), it can be fast-tracked so that it can be passed with minimal debate and no filibuster. The reconciliation bill on the ACA has received way more attention than it deserves, I think, because it gained this reputation of being a magical do-anything bill. Lord knows I've had to spend too much of my life explaining to people that no, you can't put "absolutely anything" in a reconciliation bill as some claim, and there was no way to implement a public option via reconciliation. I swear, the mythology people come up with.


Israel owes Obama a huge debt of gratitude

While we don't know the outcome of Iran's attack on Israel yet, it appears as though the worst has been avoided. According to report...