Tonight’s Lee Amendment: Senate’s First Real Obamacare Repeal Vote

Rick Bowmer/AP
Rick Bowmer/AP

It’s for real. Tonight, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah plans to offer an amendment to H.R. 22, the “Hire More Heroes Act” – that’s the House-passed vehicle the Senate is using as a placeholder for a six-year highway funding bill. The Lee amendment would, if enacted, repeal ObamaCare. But because the amendment has nothing to do with highway spending, the presiding officer of the Senate likely will rule it out of order.

Here’s the catch – in fact, Sen. Lee’s amendment WILL be in order, because H.R. 22 IS a bill about ObamaCare. In fact, it’s ALL about ObamaCare.

And here’s how the Senate Clerk’s office describes H.R. 22:

A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to exempt employees with health coverage under TRICARE or the Veterans Administration from being taken into account for purposes of determining the employers to which the employer mandate applies under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

That is, H.R. 22 would simply say that any business that hires a veteran (more specifically, any employee who gets health coverage under TRICARE or the VA) wouldn’t have to count that employee toward his aggregate count in determining whether or not he’s got 50 employees, and therefore would be required by law to offer health insurance to his employees.

Essentially, because of the way Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stacked the votes, H.R. 22 has not yet been amended as McConnell plans to do – that will come later this week. So the bill on the floor of the Senate right now IS still the same bill that passed the House. So that bill IS a bill about amending ObamaCare, and because Sen. Lee’s amendment REPEALS ObamaCare, it IS germane.

Mitch McConnell’s allies are wrong when they suggest Sen. Lee is working outside the rules. The fact is, Sen. Lee has cleverly used the rules of the Senate to bring to the floor a REAL measure that would, if enacted, repeal ObamaCare.

In fact, the vote that took place yesterday on the Senate floor – when the Senate tried but failed to invoke cloture on an amendment offered by Sen. McConnell to repeal ObamaCare – was nothing more than a show vote, and everyone knew it, even as they hoped that their constituents (read: you) would be fooled.

The REAL vote to repeal ObamaCare will take place tonight, when Sen. Lee offers his amendment.

Consequently, one of two things will happen: Either the presiding officer will rule the amendment in order, and a roll call vote will be held, or the presiding officer will rule the amendment out of order, because he believes it be non-germane (even though it is).

However, if the presiding officer rules the amendment in order, and allows a vote to take place, that will be a vote ON THE AMENDMENT ITSELF, and it will be the Senate’s first REAL vote to repeal ObamaCare.

Moreover, if the presiding officer rules the amendment out of order, because he mistakenly believes it to be non-germane to the bill on the floor, Sen. Lee will appeal the ruling of the chair. And at that point, the APPEAL OF THE RULING OF THE CHAIR will be the REAL vote to repeal ObamaCare – because he won’t be able to get a vote on his amendment unless he first wins the support of 51 Senators to overturn the ruling of the chair.

Critics of Sen. Lee’s strategy are already crying foul, saying he’s planning to invoke the so-called “nuclear option.”

Claptrap. Nothing could be further from the truth.

On this front, Sen. Lee is simply using the rules of the Senate – in this case, Rule XX, to be specific – to press his amendment. He is not CHANGING Senate rules, he is USING Senate rules.

Naysayers will fall back on the “we don’t overturn the rulings of the chair, that would lead to chaos” canard. That’s just what it is, a canard – because in this case, if the presiding officer rules the Lee amendment out of order because he believes it to be non-germane, he will be wrong. And that’s precisely WHY the Senate rules allow for an appeal of the ruling of the chair.

Now is the time. Call your Senators today. Urge them to support Sen. Lee’s amendment to repeal ObamaCare. Urge them, if necessary, to support Sen. Lee’s appeal of the ruling of the chair, if his amendment is ruled out of order. It’s the right thing to do.

Everyone is on to Sen. McConnell’s games.

Lets find out which Senators really know the rules, and know how to use them to advance a legislative agenda.

Let’s find out just how serious Republican Senators are about repealing ObamaCare.


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