Exclusive: McConnell Doesn't Commit to All Options Against Reid in Obamacare Fight
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will not commit to use all the resources available to him and other Republicans to force Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s hand on a vote to fund all of the federal government but the Affordable Care Act, Breitbart News has learned.
The House passed a continuing resolution (CR) Friday that defunds Obamacare and funds the government for the next few months. The Senate will likely take up the measure next week, but Reid is expected to use an amendment procedural trick to strip the House’s CR of its Obamacare defunding language, a move that McConnell could stop if he really wanted to.
Reid could remove the Obamacare defunding language from the bill in two ways. The first is if he introduces an amendment before the Senate votes on cloture for the House CR. That would require a 60-vote threshold, and McConnell’s spokesman Don Stewart told Breitbart News that if Reid attempted that tactic, all Senate Republicans would stand together to block it.
“Can’t happen,” McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told Breitbart News when asked about that possible plan from Reid. “Reid would need 60 [votes] to strip out the House language before cloture is invoked. All Republicans would block that.”
The second way is that Reid could introduce the amendment to fund Obamacare after cloture is invoked on the bill. McConnell and his Republicans could stop this from happening in one of two ways. They could refuse to grant cloture in the first place until a unanimous consent agreement is reached in the Senate that any amendment added to the bill post-cloture would also be subject to a 60-vote threshold. They could also require Reid to fill what is known as the “amendment tree,” a list of amendments that is the maximum of what could be considered on a bill, with amendments other than that one, before agreeing to grant cloture.
Over the course of several emails over several hours on Friday, Stewart declined to answer whether McConnell will promise to deliver the Republican votes to block cloture until Reid’s maneuvers are completely stopped. Despite Stewart’s refusal to confirm that McConnell will actually use all the minority rights he has at his disposal, Stewart insists McConnell does support the House CR to defund Obamacare.
Stewart told Breitbart News that the Senate Minority Leader would “vote against an amendment to strike” that language that defunds Obamacare. “I don’t know of any Republican who would support an amendment to strike,” he added.
Senate Conservatives Fund executive director Matt Hoskins, a force behind the anti-Obamacre petition website DontFundIt.com, ramped up pressure on McConnell and Senate Republicans in a statement earlier on Friday. "If 41 Republicans stand strong and oppose cloture, they can defeat Reid's plan to fund Obamacare," Hoskins asserted. "However, if Republicans waffle and vote for cloture, it will grease the skids for Reid's plan to fund Obamacare. It's pretty simple—any Republican who votes for cloture is voting to fund Obamacare.”
Hoskins added that the forthcoming fight is a “critical test” for Senate Republicans, “especially for Mitch McConnell, the Republican Leader.”
“It's time for Mitch McConnell to show some leadership and deliver the 41 votes needed to defeat cloture on Harry Reid's plan to fund Obamacare,” Hoskins said. “Republicans like to say they are against Obamacare, but now is the time to prove it. Now is when it matters."
FreedomWorks spokeswoman Jackie Bodnar echoed Hoskins’ sentiment in calling on Senate GOP leadership to unify around opposition to Reid’s expected tricks.
“It’s critical for Senate Republicans to present a strong and united front on their commitment to funding the government without ObamaCare,” Bodnar told Breitbart News. “Harry Reid is expected to try to remove the defund language from the CR, and those in leadership like Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn need to join conservatives like Mike Lee and Ted Cruz to fight him at every turn.
"This isn’t about towing a party line," Bodnar declared, "it’s about listening to your constituents back home and doing the right thing.”
Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn’s spokeswoman Megan Mitchell said her boss does support efforts to defund Obamacare in the CR but similarly would not commit to actually using all the minority’s resources to fight this battle. “Sen. Cornyn has voted to defund Obamacare every time it has come up for a vote and will continue to work to protect Texans,” Mitchell said in an email. “We hope, when deciding how to proceed with the CR, Majority Leader Reid will listen to the overwhelming majority of Americans who do not want Obamacare.”