Even as House Republicans “won” their repeal of the healthcare bill last week, they admitted the chances of that repeal actually passing in the Senate were less than slim. So they planned an end run – use the amendment process to attach the repeal to a bill that Democrats would not vote against, like funding the military. Thus, Democrats would be put into the difficult position of either voting against the bill to keep repeal from passing – and in the process denying the funding, or voting through the funding and the repeal as well.
This is a fairly standard parliamentary tactic, and one the Republicans count on being successful.
But hold on a minute… the Democrats are doing their own end run around this end run.
Sunday, on CBS’ “Face The Nation”, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) revealed that the Democrats have a plan to bring the tactic to light. If the amendment is presented, Democrats will force a vote on each independent part of the repeal. The goal is to put Republicans on the record as voting against the most popular parts of the bill, such as seniors’ prescription drug benefits, permitting young people to stay on their parents’ health care plans until age 26, or giving Medicare recipients free check-ups. By forcing the vote on each of these elements, where Republicans do not have the votes to take control, the Democrats believe that, in Schumer’s words, “their repeal bill is going to be so full of holes it looks like Swiss cheese”.
You know the old line about laws and sausages? Behold the brats, my friends. This is the incredibly ugly, unproductive posturing that is done on a daily basis in Congress, particularly the Senate. Even more so in the last decade. Republicans don’t have the votes to pass the repeal outright, so they try to force the issue by attaching the repeal to an unrelated bill. Democrats make them vote for each individual provision so that they can show where the Republicans land on things.
What would have been a better course? Instead of repeal, Republicans could have presented bills that fixed specific parts of the healthcare bill, and would likely have been able to get more support and pass some of them. But that assumes that they want to fix it. They don’t this is about image, not substance. They want to show they have the bigger… errr… “stick” and that they can do what they want. Never mind that the healthcare bill is based on Mitt Romney’s plan and that huge sections of it were endorsed by Republicans. They want to repeal the whole thing to make a statement. And that statement is not “Let’s help the American people”.