Now that the House has sent the Senate a continuing resolution that includes defunding Obamacare, the next step is for the Senate to vote on a motion to proceed to agree to bring the bill to the floor.
Reid will need 60 votes to move the bill forward. At first glance it may seem obvious that the GOP senators should get on board and vote to take the bill up for consideration. After all, there was enormous public pressure on the House to send the Senate a bill to fund the government that also defunds Obamcare. But, with Reid only having control of 54 votes (52 Democrats and 2 independents that caucus with Democrats), we need to take a step back and consider that this will be the only time the Senate GOP may have an opportunity to influence the process.
One reason to hold up moving the bill to floor for consideration would be to give the GOP some leverage to force Reid to negotiate the terms under which the bill will be considered. Without resistance from the GOP, Reid controls the process which will likely involve allowing only one amendment (an amendment to strike the part of the bill that defunds Obamcare) and requiring only 51 votes to pass such an amendment. If that happens, the game is over. Reid has the votes to do that.
The only real chance defunding Obamacare has is to give Senate Republicans enough leverage to force Reid to allow a vote on the House bill without his amendment. Given Obamacare’s widespread unpopularity, a vote against defunding could threaten the re-election chances of several Democrat Senators.
In other words, a vote for cloture to bring the House bill to the floor gives Reid the upper hand in strategy.
Therefore, although it may seem counter-intuitive to vote against bringing the House bill to the floor for consideration, it is a smart tactical move for the GOP to hold out and demand Reid agrees to a fair set of rules.