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“The Self-Defeating GOP”: The Difference Between Trying To Actually Legislate And Simply Grandstanding

These days, there is never a dull moment in the Republican Party. Today, the House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that would repeal significant portions of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law. This time the repeal measures are packaged in a budget reconciliation bill, so named because it carries out instructions that were outlined in the budget resolution which passed Congress earlier this year.

Budget reconciliation bills are subject to special rules which allow for limited debate in the Senate and are thus able to pass that chamber with a simple majority rather than the 60 votes necessary to end a filibuster. Opponents of the health care law view the reconciliation bill as their first opportunity to move a bill targeting the Affordable Care Act through the Senate and on to the president’s desk. Although the president is expected to veto the measure, many Republicans feel the political exercise would be a symbolic victory.

However, not everyone in the Republican Party is happy with the legislation. The Hill reports that three Republican senators, Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah, will oppose the bill because it only repeals parts of the Affordable Care Act and not the entire law. The authors of the reconciliation bill were limited in what they could include in the package by the rules of the reconciliation process in the Senate. With narrow margins in the Senate, the defection of the three Senators puts Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., perilously close to losing the vote altogether.

The three opposing senators have offered a plan to override the Senate parliamentarian and pass a more aggressive bill as the solution to the conundrum. As of this moment, it does not appear that their proposal has a lot of support.

The revolt over the reconciliation bill is illustrative of the overwhelming tension within the Republican Party. On the one hand is the segment of the party that wants to operate within the parameters of what is achievable, and on the other is the segment of the party that wants to adhere to strict conservative principles no matter what. It’s the difference between trying to actually legislate and simply grandstanding.

The commitment of Cruz and his followers to their talking points regarding full repeal is so blind they don’t even realize they are trying to nullify Senate rules just a few weeks after the conservative House Freedom Caucus managed to force out Speaker John Boehner for his supposed disregard of the House rules. The current party dust up is even more striking because it is over a bill that never has a chance to become law to begin with. As Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., told The Hill, “It’s a pretend vote and people are upset because it doesn’t pretend enough.”

The conflict is not serving the party well. Never mind trying to keep the government open or negotiate a budget deal. It appears that even symbolic political achievements – in this case a standoff with the president – are now at risk. If this keeps up, Democrats won’t have to do anything. They’ll be able to stand back and watch the Republican Party defeat itself.

 

By: Cary Gibson, Thomas Jefferson Street Blog, U. S. News and World Report, October 23, 2105

October 24, 2015 Posted by | Budget Reconcilation, Conservatives, GOP, Obamacare | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Some GOPers Want To Play Chicken”: Getting An Obamacare Repeal Bill On Obama’s Desk; For What?

There’s an interesting Rachel Bade/Jennifer Haberkorn piece up at Politico about all the trouble congressional Republicans have encountered in trying to use the budget reconciliation process to pass a simple veto-proof “root and branch” repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Seems the Senate parliamentarian is telling them they’d have to limit themselves to items with an immediate budgetary impact in any reconciliation bill. But any “partial” repeal–much less a replacement–legislation would raise policy questions on which Republicans disagree, and might also involve deficit-boosting consequences for which offsets would have to be found. So some GOPers want to play chicken:

Some conservatives and staff in both chambers, like House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), are urging the chambers to do a straight one- or two-sentence repeal of everything. They argue that the parliamentarian has to look only at the words in front of her during reconciliation and should not be able to force lawmakers to break out the provisions on their own.

One aide working on the matter suggested they may try this and see if it works — but others are doubtful.

I guess I’m unclear as to why this is worth the trouble. Getting legislation repealing Obamacare onto Obama’s desk, long the obsessive goal of congressional Republicans, will not accomplish a thing other than confirming that Obama doesn’t want to kill his signature domestic policy achievement and Republicans do. I think most voters out there for whom opposition to Obamacare is a “bullet vote” have probably already figured out they should vote Republican in 2016. So the whole exercise appears to be one of those “energize the base” things whose value I am always questioning.

I do think that if SCOTUS kills Obamacare subsidies in states using federal exchanges there will be some value in Republicans getting a bogus “fix” onto the president’s desk in order to blame him for the subsequent chaos. In that contingency they could almost certainly structure a bill that would meet the conditions for reconciliation, and could probably tamp down any internal opposition by ensuring dissenters there’s zero chance any of it will become law. But on “root and branch repeal,” they might as well just promise they’ll git er done when President Bush or Walker or Rubio takes office.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 1, 2015

June 5, 2015 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Budget Reconcilation, GOP | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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