When Establishment Republicans and their Democrat comrades claim there is no path to victory in the fight to defund Obamacare, they are intentionally muddying the waters. Do not confuse blundering political expedience with winning.
There is a clear path to victory and the folks comprising the new Republican leadership emerging in the House and Senate are smart enough and bold enough to take that path.
They’re playing to win and deserve our support.
Understanding the options available to these new leaders requires an understanding of a few of the basics of Senate rules and process. Otherwise folks like Karl Rove will tell you to “do the math” counting Democrat Senators without telling you that Senate Republicans have the ability to change the formula.
To help simplify an explanation of the Senate process, think of it like a football game where the rules and timing are set, but there are different plays at your disposal. Winning requires playing the game with a focus on fundamentals.
Let’s go with one possible scenario that could unfold this week. As early as Monday, the Senate could agree to take up the House bill passed last Friday that funds everything in the government but Obamacare. The Senate can do this by something called “unanimous consent,” if no one Senator objects, or if one Senator does object, they can put it to a vote requiring 60 votes to pass. For the purposes of this exercise, let’s say one or the other is successful and the bill goes to the Senate floor for consideration.
What happens next in this process is debate on the Senate floor begins, where each side argues for or against the bill.
During this debate period, Democrat Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) could offer an amendment to strip out the language in the House bill that defunds Obamacare. Reid would also likely choose not to allow any other amendments to the bill. That is within his power as the leader of the majority party in the Senate. The hard and fast rules, however, require Reid to file his amendment for consideration and reveal for all to see what’s in the amendment before the debate is over.
This is where things can get deceptive. Establishment Republicans would let you believe the next step in the process is the Senate has a vote on Reid’s amendment. What these politicians are not telling you is Sen. Reid cannot get a vote on his amendment to put Obamacare funding back in the House bill unless some of the Republicans agree to it.
Here’s how that happens.
We last left the House bill on the Senate floor being debated. To end that debate period, 60 Senators have to vote to do so. In Capitol Hillspeak, that vote to end debate is called reaching “cloture.” Currently, there are 52 Democrats, two independents (who work with the Democrats) and 46 Republican Senators. Republicans can win that cloture vote with 41 votes, and debate continues on the Senate floor until Democrats can get 60 votes to stop it.
A vote for cloture is a vote to fund Obamacare. The people understand this, so Senators beware.
Bottom line: Reid cannot get a vote on his amendment that would strip Obamacare defunding out of the House bill unless six Republicans agree to let that vote take place.
That’s called leverage in anyone’s playbook. Reid loses his advantage. He will have to negotiate on the rest of the process–like whether his amendment to fund Obamacare requires 60 votes to pass. Or not. That’s up for negotiation, too, if Senate Republicans fight for it.
If Republicans hold together on this, Reid will not be able to change the House bill. That leaves Harry Reid with some tough choices. Senate Democrats running for re-election do not want to be forced to vote against the House bill that defunds Obamacare.
Republicans can use this leverage to force Senate Democrats to make concessions.
Americans lucky enough to have a job right now are losing their healthcare plans they liked and wanted to keep. Obamacare is causing full-time jobs to become part-time jobs to get under the 30-hour workweek mandate. Doctors are choosing to retire rather than comply with the Obamacare boondoggle. We are seeing this every single day in the newspapers.
Even the unions hate Obamacare.
If Republicans will force Senate Democrats to support Obamacare in this vote, some will bolt or they will lose their elections next year. By then, Obamacare will have reached out and touched everyone. The consequences in some instances could be fatal.
When Democrats and Establishment Republicans shriek “government shutdown,” and “the military won’t be paid,” or “law enforcement won’t be paid,” and every other item in the parade of horribles they’ll put forth, remember this: the House can keep sending bills to the Senate to fund anything they want.
Air traffic controllers? Done! Military? Done! Border Patrol? Done!
Funding the government at this point is this and only this: the Senate must stop holding America hostage and vote to fund the government, in whole or piece by piece, without Obamacare in it.
In life and as in the game of football, you can never win the victory if you choose to punt every time you touch the ball.