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“Another Train Wreck For McConnell”: Wow, Republicans Revolting Against The Elimination Of Medicaid Expansion. Imagine That!

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 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!

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.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, November 12, 2015

November 14, 2015 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Mitch Mc Connell, Republicans | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Don’t Call Us; We’ll Call You”: When The Far-Right Isn’t Far-Right Enough

For about four decades, far-right members of Congress have enjoyed a special group separate from the Republican mainstream. It’s called the Republican Study Committee and it’s always been home to the House’s most rigid ideologues and reactionary voices. The faction even releases its own budget plan, and in recent years, has deemed Paul Ryan’s blueprint as far too moderate.

The group has even offered something of a gauge for the party’s overall direction – the larger the RSC’s membership, the more obvious it was that House Republicans had been radicalized.

Now, however, some far-right Republicans have decided some of their brethren just aren’t far-right enough. Politico reported yesterday afternoon:

More than a dozen of the House’s most conservative lawmakers will splinter from the decades-old Republican Study Committee to form a new organization designed to push the GOP caucus to the right.

The currently unnamed group will be led by Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Raúl Labrador of Idaho, sources involved with the planning said, and will probably include 30 or more Republicans – many of them among the most vocal critics of GOP leadership.

Jordan, it’s worth noting, is the former chairman of the Republican Study Committee. In other words, he’s leaving his own group to form an even-more-conservative entity.

At last count, the RSC listed 173 members – that’s more than two-thirds of the entire House Republican conference – while this new faction had 37 conservative lawmakers at their inaugural meeting earlier this week.

In an amazing twist, National Journal added that this group will be “invitation-only.” For those who may not be familiar with these Capitol Hill membership groups, ideological caucuses usually encourage lawmakers to join. Indeed, the whole point is to grow in the hopes of wielding more influence.

But for these far-right Republicans, the message seems to be, “Don’t call us; we’ll call you.”

Of course, all of this helps bolster the larger point: in the wake of a successful election cycle, Republican divisions are a genuine problem.

As the Republican Study Committee breakup shows – on the heels of the failed revolt against Speaker Boehner last week – some of the schisms are within House Republicans. At the same time, as Brian Beutler noted overnight, some of the divisions are also between the Senate GOP and the House GOP: they’re already on very different tracks on issues related to immigration, Homeland Security funding, and even a possible gas-tax hike.

Politico added this morning, “More often than not, House and Senate Republicans seem like they come from different parties, if not different planets.”

With a bruising 2015 just getting underway, Republicans are heading to a two-day retreat in Hershey, Pennsylvania, to see if they can get in sync on their policy priorities – but more important, their expectations.

“It’s time to air the differences, see how big they are and hopefully find the common ground,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who served in the House for 14 years. “There’s no downside to it. It’s kind of the peak and then things disintegrate afterwards. This will be the moment of unity.”

Well, maybe.

For what it’s worth, I think it’s best not to overstate the nature of the intra-party schisms. For all intents and purposes, there are only a small handful of actual Republican moderates left on Capitol Hill – and by historical standards, they’re really not especially “moderate” – and the arguments within the party aren’t especially substantive. Rather, the fight is over tone, tactics, and strategy. The overwhelming majority of congressional Republicans want roughly the same thing; they just disagree over how to get there and whether certain destinations are realistic.

But as we’re seeing, those disagreements obviously matter, and as members sit down for a collective chat this week, the tensions are likely to fester.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, January 14, 2015

January 15, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, GOP, House Republicans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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