Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has predicted that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would inevitably figure out a way to strike a Republican-backed amendment that defunds Obamacare from the stopgap government funding bill it was to approve this month.
This week, Cruz will likely get to watch that scenario play out.
And, despite strong principled opposition to the Affordable Care Act, there not a lot that Cruz and the Republican Senate minority — several of whom are siding with Senator John McCain and the Democratic majority in supporting the inclusion of Obamacare — can do.
“Harry Reid will no doubt try to strip the defund language from the continuing resolution, and right now he likely has the votes to do so,” Cruz said last week, as the House vote neared. “At that point, House Republicans must stand firm, hold their ground, and continue to listen to the American people.”
The House indeed voted Friday to temporarily fund the government through December, but attached an amendment that strips funding for the Affordable Care Act, which is supposed to start rolling out on Oct. 1.
Within hours of the vote, Reid’s evident strategy for stripping that amendment right back out of the bill began circulating on the Internet.
“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has not confirmed what procedural path he will choose but colleagues say he is likely to use an ‘amendment to strike’ to kill the House-originated language to defund the new healthcare law while keeping the government funded,” explains a story at The Hill.
What is an “amendment to strike?” It’s a procedurally acceptable placeholder amendment that can be attached to the House version of the bill as it passes through the process of Senate debate with the defunding language completely intact.
Republicans in the Senate (well, all the ones who aren’t siding with McCain’s defeatism) would be obligated to favor the bill as long as it preserves the House version’s defunding language. But Reid’s “amendment to strike” (which serves essentially as a “substitute amendment,” according to a Democratic aide) would permit the scheduling of a future Senate vote so that the Democratic majority could legally remove the defunding measure altogether.
Got all that? Those are the rules of procedure.
“Since you can amend a bill post-cloture, as long as it’s germane, with only a simple majority, it would seem to me that he [Reid] has a way to make this work as he wishes,” Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) explained to The Hill. “…I can’t imagine why any Senate Republican would vote to block cloture or block motion to proceed on a bill they support. I’m assuming that what the House sends over is what we support.”
There’s an air of inevitability hanging over the pending Senate vote, and Democrats will likely be able to convince the mainstream media that their Senate victory (abetted by several Senate RINOs) is the common-sense antidote to the madness perpetrated by the more conservative (and, incidentally, more representative) House GOP.
The defund measure is all but dead; that’s almost certain. But if the Senate’s few strong conservatives don’t anticipate the way Democrats and the media will represent their forthcoming “victory” to the public, they stand to lose the political capital they’ve so diligently cultivated among the voting public and with Congressional leadership.
Summarizing how ugly Congressional Republicans could end up looking over the Obamacare fight in the court of public opinion, The Libertarian Republic’s Keith Farrell advised conservative to pick their battles:
Even with a victory in the House [Friday], the Democrat controlled Senate will likely strip the language from bill concerning Affordable Care, as Senator Cruz predicts. And if, by some miracle, the bill does get to Obama’s desk, he will veto it. Any ensuing standoff would likely be short, and likely result in Republican concession. The GOP and its constituents may need to save their resources and live to fight another day.
Maybe. But Senator Cruz has dug in too deep on Obamacare — and has asked too much of his earnest conservative supporters — to tone down the rhetoric. Wouldn’t the true conservative leadership in both chambers be better off to go down swinging? Once the Affordable Care Act has had some time to work its magic, not only might those who opposed it to the bitter end live to fight another day; they might actually win the next round, with the support of a disgusted public.