Greg Sargent says the Republicans have a plan to slow down Senate reconciliation:
Senior Senate GOP leadership aides have settled on a new strategy that, they hope, will stall or kill the Dem health reform push: They are going to use the arcane “Byrd rule” to try to bleed the reconciliation fix to death and ensure that it never passes.
Senior GOP aides have been studying the rule book in recent days, and they think they have a game plan. Here’s how they hope it will work.
At risk of oversimplification, the Byrd rule is designed to ensure that reconciliation is used to only make budgetary fixes, not policy ones, to existing legislation. Presuming the House passes the Senate bill, the House will then pass a reconciliation fix to the bill, after which the Senate will then try to pass that fix, too.
At this point Senate GOPers will repeatedly invoke the Byrd rule to ask the parliamentarian to strip individual provisions (ones fixing this or that in the original bill) out of the fix, on the grounds that they are policy fixes. If individual provisions are stripped, it would change the Senate’s version of the overall fix.[….]
There’s a larger game plan here. By making it clear they will do their best to tie reconciliation in procedural knots, Republicans are hoping to frighten House Dems into believing reconciliation is doomed. If House Dems are persuaded that the fix later will fail, they will be less likely to pass the original Senate bill in the first place, pehaps killing it.
I have no idea if this will work. It sounds like a bluff to me.
Let them try to screw around and slow it down. Just so long as it passes.
I guess one could postulate that all these arcane rules exist so that you have to have some type of skill to be there. If not, just any any idiot could be in Congress. Oh, wait….
Seriously, I heard them explaining this very same thing on NPR yesterday, and while I consider myself a very well-educated person, and highly informed, after the segment all I could think was WTF? I have no idea what any of this means.
This is just a ploy to scare wavering House members. Once the Senate bill passes the House, it’s over. HCR is a reality, and the GOP will have little incentive to clog up the reconciliation fixes. They might still try to do it because they’re jerks, but then they’ll be “substantive supporters of the Cornhusker kickback” etc. Overall, the fixes should be quite popular… more subsidies for middle class and a less aggressive excise tax. If they want to be on record as opposing that kind of thing, I say let ’em.
If they do this, the Democrats really need to hang it around their necks like an albatross and make them own it: that they are killing legislation while offering nothing as an alternative. Further the meme of “Why put people [Republicans] in charge of things that they don’t believe in [government]?”
Will the Dems do this? Sigh . . .
Has anyone polled the public on what they think of invoking the Byrd rule? I hear they have very strong opinions on these kinds of procedural questions.
Well, if they think our Democratic politicians are easily browbeaten or turn to mush at even the barest hint of political turmoil they have another thing coming.
It doesn’t have to work.
That is the rule need not apply, or even be a valid argument.
A few dozen GOP representatives are now primed to go on TV and stay “Byrd Rule… we win” and pundits will start tingling with excitment.
Nancy doesn’t have the votes, and won’t be getting the votes anytime soon. As reconciliation is something that would happen after that vote, this seems a premature conversation based on false hope.
Health care reform in it’s current incarnation is dead. It’s time to start coming to terms with that.
i keep a hat on my dresser, which i plan to eat should HCR actually pass.
it’s a nice wool hat. with a Charlie and Lucy football scene embroidered on the side.
I’m pretty sure all the fixes actually end up reducing the deficit further. Should be easy to get the CBO to just score each individual proposal and tell the GOP to go back to jamming their fingers up their butts.
It won’t work because the reconciliation bill is a minor part of reform that deals exclusively with money and financing which is exactly what reconciliation was designed for. This is pretty weak tea. Honestly, once the House passes the Senate bill, health care is passed and Republicans have lost. This is why I have always supported passing the Senate bill first. We just need some Democrats willing to call it a victory and be excited about this. If we don’t sell it, nobody else is going to.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
@Steeplejack: I worry about places like GOS (and some commenters here) attacking the Dems for continually failing to pass health care, rather than going after the Republicans.
and it will work because dems are pussies that don’t have the first clue how to govern or what they are doing – let alone what their constituents might want…
Heh. Good one.
A hypothetical poll would have a majority of basketball fans approving of it, believing that it’s a reference to the NBA salary cap exception that allows teams to re-sign their superstars. The rest of the American public would stare at you blankly.
This tactic is actually pretty lame.
The more interesting idea is the endless amendments proposals, forcing the parliamentarian to rule that further amendments are dilatory and in violation of the reconciliation rules.
There is a 20 hour limit to a reconciliation debate expressly, but there is no limit on the offering of amendments.
The GOP can only do the number of point of order invoking the Byrd Rule as there are provisions in the bill. And point of order votes could all be done seriatim, getting it all done in a couple of hours.
If my understanding is correct, it won’t work and it is a bluff — though the Republicans might not know that.
The parliamentarian doesn’t rule on the budgetary reconciliation disputes, he advises. And the VP, who does have the final ruling, is free to disregard the parliamentarian’s advice.
I disagree. The GOP’s entire strategy since losing Congress has been to obstruct the Democrats to make them look useless. Anything that they can do to make matters worse for the average American is to their political advantage, so that’s what they’re doing. It has the drawback of being evil, but it doesn’t seem to be stopping them…
The Democrats should be able to make this work for them. Pelosi needs to admonish any recalcitrant members of the price they will pay if they don’t pass anything.
I think she will be able to do this, although cowardice may work to make it a very close vote.
It would also be a good idea to hammer on the fact that the GOP favors doing nothing
@Belafon (formerly anonevent):
Attacking the Democrats for continually failing seems to be a pretty good reason to criticize them. What’s better is that different factions can attack different Democrats. The Progressive wing in the House is wavering because the bill isn’t strong enough. The Stupak wing is jerking off to disgusting anti-abortion demands. The Blue Dogs pretend not to notice this is actually a deficit-reducing bill. I don’t envy Pelosi in the least, but such is the job.
Finally, “going after Republicans” should be a lot easier than it is, but since they rule with a 41 to 59 Minority in the Senate and the President continually looks to them for solutions and requests their continued input, there’s a lot of confused messages going out.
It’s true the Parliamentarian can be disregarded. The chances are slim that that would happen though.
OT: but wtf:
Massa Will Resign Monday
From my understanding, the role of the parliamentarian is actually pretty overstated, as his rulings are taken more as advice for the presiding officer (Biden), who can reject said advice and say provision X fits cleanly within the Byrd rule.
And of course, if the Democrats still don’t like the hand the parliamentarian deals to them, they can fire him and replace him with someone more receptive. Just like the Republicans did back in 2001 to put in place the current parliamentarian.
And even considering all that, if the Republicans still do decide to obstruct as much as they can, the rider that the Democrats are trying to pass is essentially Obama’s 11 page proposal. Slogging through 11 pages isn’t going to take that long.
I say it’s a bluff.
“Once the Senate bill passes the House.”
Keep calling. I’m just a Swede, but I sympathize with the uninsured and the general DNC agenda, and my economy will suffer if you hit another, system-related crash (which will happen in about a decade if you don’t get HC reform, probably).
So keep fighting like maniacs.
So the Democrats are going to try and strip out the most notorious parts of the bill — the Cornhusker Kickback and all that — and the Republicans are going to make a show of stopping them?
Yeah, be my guest, GOP.
Well, gotta say that nothing could make me more confident that it WILL pass than the fact of you posting this.
Since you basically only slither out of your hole when your guys are losing, I’d say HCR is on its way to a big win.
Yup. Matthews will cream his pants when he finds out about this.
Also, you’ll have five thousand confused NBA fans saying, “What? That’s not the fucking Bird Rule!”
This is plan B. Bart Stumpfuck is plan A.
go ahead, let them obstruct.
btw. if this is such a bad bill and a giveaway to the insurance industry, as the hippies like to cry, then why isn’t the insurance industry intervening to stomp on the gop obstruction.
I have guys? Cool. Do they know?
OT: McCain fluffers have no sense of humor about JD Hayworth Web ad that puts McCain in blue paint.
I probably don’t agree with Hayworth on much, but I
do agree that taking McWars McCain down is highly worth doing.
OT, but the wingers heads are exploding over this:
Jay Z went to the WH and met with Prez Obama. took pic supposedly in “Situation Room”
Well now there’s proof. Check it out:
Massa has resigned immediately over the salty language issue. So that’s how many votes needed in the House now? (This TPM story says 216, same as before, and he was a No last time, but it would have been nice to turn him.)
Yawn. Whatever. OK, Dems. Time to jam some titanium up your spines and Pass. The. Damn. Bill. Eyes on the prize! It’s the fourth quarter with a minute to go. You are on the one yard line. You are ahead by two. All you have to do is get a fucking touchdown and you win the game. You can kick the field goal and make it more interesting. Just do not fucking punt!
Win it for the…um, ok, no. Just do it. Get it done. Sheesh.
You’re joking, right?
That’s pretty much the response I would expect.
It won’t work.
The parliamentarian does not decide whether or not the item is or is not “extraneous” as per the Byrd rule. The parliamentarian makes a suggestion, but the Presiding Officer is the one who makes the final call. So, Biden, or another sitting Democratic Senator. The Presiding Officer may rule the item extraneous or not independent of the Parliamentarian’s suggestion, and the only way to overturn a ruling of the Presiding Officer is with a 3/5ths majority vote.
All you have to do is stick Biden up there and have him repeat “Denied. Denied. Denied. Denied.”
either massa really is sick or he did something really sick.
General Egali Tarian Stuck
Sounds like a half witted wingnut brain fart and typical Luntz Basement Gnome mendacity on wordplay.
The Byrd Rule doesn’t say that policy can’t be considered, only that whatever is considered doesn’t increase the budget after ten years and forward from there. The wingers made permanent and sweeping changes to Welfare Reform, because the rule changes in Welfare distribution lowered the long term deficit. And why Bush’s big tax cuts increased the long term deficit and thus were subject to sunset after ten years because it violated the Byrd Rule. The provision must be used for items that affect the budget to qualify. That is why just the reforms being passed this way wouldn’t work theoretically, because they have no effect on federal fiscal policy.
What the wingers can do to slow things down is offer as many amendments as they want, which there are no limits to offering amendments, allegedly when reconciliation is used. But they likely won’t try to kill the bill this way, because the media focus on this event will have them risk being obstructionist in an obvious way. And they are getting worried that the string is running out for them on this with the public, and could get long termed branded with the party of no by the public.
I think this will make it long as it’s limited to fixes and dems have the 50 votes. The wingers will do some contrarian theater, to show their base they tried, but won’t go balls to the wall to stop it. One reason I think they’ve calculated this bill passing will help them in November. They may be right, who knows?
but kuchinich says we should start the game over, staring with a new coin flip.
I think this one is dead before getting out ofthe gate:
Byrd has stood up for using reconcilliation
@General Egali Tarian Stuck:
and Sen Brown said they’ll go to all night session if they do this.
Ya know Brown might make a better majority leader than Schumer. Chuck is supposedly a master at the inside game, but if so, he hasn’t produced any results.
@General Egali Tarian Stuck: There’s no limit to actually offering amendments, but there is a limit to debate. That includes the debate on amendments.
Once the allotted 20 hours of debate runs out, if Republicans continue to offer amendments, what happens is that the amendment is immediately voted on, without debate. And you only get a vote on the amendment if the Presiding Officer doesn’t just rule your amendment out of order to begin with. Which, again, is at the discretion of the Presiding Officer. So, if they offer germane amendments, you can dispose of them instantly by taking a vote, and dilatory amendments can be disposed of without a vote.
@thefncrow: So basically the GOP is throwing a hail mary and hoping that the majority makes a procedural fuck up.
General Egali Tarian Stuck
@thefncrow: Thanks for the correction on just voting for amendments after 20 hours.
if reagan had brought frank sinatra or clint eastwood into the situation room, would they be freaking out, no.
hell, if bush had brought Toby Keith or dennis miller into the situation room, would they be freaking out, no.
And yet, they insist they’re not racist.
You can bleed on me
Effectively, that’ll be Biden. I don’t know for sure, but would imagine that Senate leaders of both parties agree to abide, as a matter of protocol, by the parliamentarian’s guidance: without such an agreement, either side, whichever is in the majority, could disregard him willy-nilly, rendering his role moot.
If so, Reid won’t let any Senators override the parliamentarian, but will make sure Biden is there to do it instead, if it becomes necessary.
@General Egali Tarian Stuck: They’ve also been pre-emptively trying to impugn the credibility of the Senate parliamentarian as part of this campaign.
In the word of Dubya “Bring it on”. Once the House passes the Senate bill, it’s over for the Republicans. They simply won’t be able to block any reconciliation measures, politically.
Yep. Pity that this isn’t an MSM-friendly storyline.
I hope this “working the ref” shit backfires spectacularly.
That’s true. Last VP acting as President of the Senate to overrule a parliamentarian was a Republican. Which means if Biden indicated he would do so the R-baggers would throw a tantrum screaming shit about Ds using the ubernuclear option to enforce socia1ism upon the land. Ds would wilt again.
Could do the Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott solution replacing a parliamentarian with one more inclined to rule your way, but then rainbows are more likely to fly out of Reid’s ass than him doing that.
It’s good to see (although sick, in a way) that others have been studying this issue closely enough to come to the correct understanding regarding the role of the parliamentarian.
Under ordinary circumstances, the parliamentarian gives advice regarding a procedural objection, and the presiding officer almost always takes that advice.
But that doesn’t tell you what will happen if the GOP decides to raise a whole bunch of dilatory objections. The Democrats are not forced to sit there helplessly while the parliamentarian takes his sweet time with each and every objection. The presiding officer is fully empowered to group the objections together, to reject them out of hand without asking the parliamentarian, or to move the process forward in a variety of other ways.
As with the use of reconciliation in the first place, the Democrats may not resort to these tactics until their backs are to the wall. But if the rules don’t require them to sit there and listen to the Republicans reading the phone book for days on end, don’t expect them to.
General Egali Tarian Stuck
@Comrade Kevin: No doubt they are. Wingnuts play personal and for blood. And some background on Frumin’s predecessor and his fate for not kowtowing to winger bullying in 2001
They don’t like parliamentarian rulings, they just fire the fucker and get a new one. These guys apprentice for that job for 17 fucking years, and know their shit by the time it’s their turn for The Show. They can’t fire Frumin though, at least not till they get the Senate back. I hope that fear doesn’t affect Mr. Frumin, and I’m sure it will not.
There will always be a place in my parking lot when you need a little coke and sympathy.
Love the Onion
Latest Sarah Palin Speech Opens Sixth Seal
Can I just say, this Faux News headline (at the top of my Google News feed, mind you) made me laugh: Obama Pleads With Dems to Pass His Health Bill. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of stupid headlines from them, but really? “Pleads”?
Good luck, Republicans, trying to make it seem like you still have any power. I hear the tchotchke-loving cronies really fall for that ego-driven nonsense.
@General Egali Tarian Stuck:
Especially since they’ve been trashing him unmercifully in the press for the last week.
But it doesn’t matter if he does decide to crap his pants and act like a raging wingnut. Biden gets the final say, not Frumin.
Quoth one of the sully-bots:
Quoth the Colbert:
That would make Biden’s day, no month, no year. What’s the over/under on how many repetitions of “denied” it takes before he goes all David Spade on their asses?
“Hmmm, let me think about this for a moment. Oh yeah! Duhhhhhh-nyed!”
Jesus, the Dems suck.
Just pass the damn Senate bill and be down with it.
Then fix whatever is a bug up someones ass.
Why fuck around anymore?
Actually, his resigning is as good as turning him, if he was previously a “No.” Because the Republican who’s resigning decided to postpone his resignation to fight the good fight, the number was going to stay at 217. Massa’s resignation brings the number down to 216, and if Massa wasn’t a yes vote, that’s like flipping him.
Sen. Brown is dusting off his pink leather hotpants in the hopes that this bill is going to the mattresses.
Cue Chris Matthews right leg in anticipation of the thrill.
Remind me why I should care what Kucinich thinks.
2 problems with this:
1-The dems can just have the parliamentarian rule on the bill initially, and then the republicans can’t keep asking him to rule on provisions.
2-You need 60 votes to change anything in a recon bill.
I nominate Al Franken.
[hippie] Because he stands on principal! [/hippie]
Ezra interviewed Kent Conrad about Reconciliation earlier this wk and he does not see any problem. The Parlimentarian will have to rule each time, but Biden who knows a lot about the Senate, too, can overrule the Parlimentarian. Conrad is very comfortable with the small bill and feels it meets the budgetary score requirements. That is what the Byrd Rule is per Conrad:
From now until November I want to continuously hear about the 45,000 people a year that die from not having health care insurance. And how more and more people will get priced out of having any health care insurance at all. I think the GOP mantra is: ‘If they’re going to die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
Yeah, but then Megan McCardle will write a post that links to a Discovery Institute study that says the 45,000 number is greatly inflated and the people still stupid enough to read McCardle will spend three months debunking the study.
Jonathan Bernstein, who has irritated me repeatedly today with this ineffectual nonsense. He continues to utterly and completely miss the point being made in critiques like Ezra Klein’s (who he’s responding to in the above selection), which is not the fact that “the minority party gets to have talking points”; but rather, what does it say about the traditional media that they so dutifully publish these PATENTLY FALSE statements that have been repeatedly debunked in the public forum? And in all of his inane ramblings on the subject, never once does Bernstein address the real issue of that matter. He just keeps saying things like:
Fine. But here’s the question for you, Bernstein? Why didn’t the Democrats attack the procedures instead of attacking the actual substance behind the procedures? Maybe, just maybe, it’s because there was NOTHING about the procedures to attack. Because they are standard practice. Because they are normal. Because they are legal. And because they are intended for moments much like the one facing us currently.
And look at how else he phrases his argument. The Democrats “could have forced lots of media attention on the idea” of reconciliation being some kind of extra-constitutional power grab. But again, why would they need to force media attention on something that is completely innocuous as a procedural matter? Oh, that’s right. They wouldn’t need to unless they were inherently bankrupt of any ideas whatsoever to address the critical mass of issues facing this country, and instead, only had haphazardly constructed fear-mongering at their disposal.
“Maybe I’m just cranky today.”
No, Jonathan. Maybe you’re just a fucking idiot. Every day.
I’m not an optimist by nature but this bit of news makes me more optimistic than I have been in weeks that the House will pass the Senate bill and the Senate and House will both pass the fixes with the Senate doing so through reconciliation.
That’s 90-95% of the haul right there. Presumably once the larger work is done Voinovich, Collins, Snowe, etc will agree to national exchanges.
exactly. the minute the gooper start self-immolation, you know they’re cooked.
I couldn’t agree more. He basically gives journalists a complete pass on reporting that the statements made by politicians just happen to be bullshit–
Oh, it’s just all so confusing! What a douche. He’s certainly on the right blog.
I bet Bad Horse’s Filly or jeffreyw could recommend a tasty sauce for it if HCR comes to pass. :^)
Good point. If the Repugs thought that the Senate bill couldn’t possibly pass the House, they wouldn’t even be talking like this. This could (maybe hopefully) be an admission that they’ve lost that fight and that, despite what they’ve been crowing, Pelosi does have the votes and is just waiting for the final negotiations to be settled.
Do we have to start picketing Health Insurance Company offices? Time for pitchforks and torches. Whatever it takes.
@Bob K: Clearly, the answer is a law that forces everyone to give money to those companies.
@Mnemosyne: Bearnaise. No question. Bearnaise can make just about any tough meat tasty.
Well, that’s probably the best offer I’ve had in some time, all things considered.
DougL (frmrly: Conservatively Liberal)
It seems that the Senator from WV that the Byrd rule was named after had something to say about this to a local WV paper:
I found this on the front page at Kos but I bet we won’t hear a word about this in the M$M.
Damn DougL, I just posted the same thing. GMTA.
It looks like my post was held up, which is fine by me. We don’t need the letter posted twice.
DougL (frmrly: Conservatively Liberal)
Sorry about that. I read the thread before posting it to make sure that I wasn’t being a ‘dittohead’…lol! I am glad to see that Byrd is calling it like he sees it. Now if we could just get the M$M to do the same…
I know, Aerosmith wrote a song about it. Dream On.
“Has anyone polled the public on what they think of invoking the Byrd rule? I hear they have very strong opinions on these kinds of procedural questions.”
“You’re joking, right?”
I don’t know if he was joking, but he has a point.
If you polled some chunk of the public and said “The Republicans plan to use the Byrd Rule to block the Democratic health care legislation. Do you approve of this?”, I bet that you’d get some pretty anti-Byrd Rule responses.
They’ll have no idea what the Byrd Rule is, they’ll just instantly know they hate it.
Conversely, I’ll bet if you polled and asked “The Democrats plan to use the Byrd Rule to pass the Democratic health care legislation. Do you approve of this?” people would hate that just as much.
(I don’t think I’m joking.)
I’m increasingly starting to think that passing reconciliation, and passing the bill in general, really does get a lot easier if the House passes the Senate bill first.
Pass the reconciliation bill first, and (1) the media everywhere will be saying “the democrats are using reconciliation to pass health care reform” and not care if it’s true, and (2) the republicans and the Stupak democrats will gun like crazy to kill the reconciliation bill as a way of killing the HCR bill.
Pass the Senate bill first, and if the Republicans try to kill the reconciliation bill all they’re doing is trying to protect Ben Nelson from losing his kickback. They’ll try to do it anyway, of course! But they’ll look ridiculous doing so. And the media loses the ability to do nonsense about how the Democrats are so evil for using reconciliation to pass health care. The media will have to somehow do that while finding a way to keep the viewers from remembering the health care bill is already signed into law.
The noises the progressive caucus was making after walking out of that meeting with Obama yesterday sounded encouraging, and Pelosi is no longer demanding the Senate go first. I think the opposition to the Senate bill passing first is dissipating.
When do the republicans ever get called on their bluffs by democrats?
Greg Sargent worries too much.