Photoshop: Leo Alberti
Some cold water thrown on the cramdown, ram-through, promise-we’ll-amend-it-later plans of the Democrat ruling majority. Curses, foiled again:
The Senate Parliamentarian has ruled that President Barack Obama must sign Congress’ original health care reform bill before the Senate can act on a companion reconciliation package, senior GOP sources said Thursday.
The Senate Parliamentarian’s Office was responding to questions posed by the Republican leadership. The answers were provided verbally, sources said.
House Democratic leaders have been searching for a way to ensure that any move they make to approve the Senate-passed $871 billion health care reform bill is followed by Senate action on a reconciliation package of adjustments to the original bill. One idea is to have the House and Senate act on reconciliation prior to House action on the Senate’s original health care bill.
Information Republicans say they have received from the Senate Parliamentarian’s Office eliminates that option. House Democratic leaders last week began looking at crafting a legislative rule that would allow the House to approve the Senate health care bill, but not forward it to Obama for his signature until the Senate clears the reconciliation package.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) moved Thursday to put Senate Republicans on the defensive over health care, sending a letter to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in which he dared the GOP to vote against reform.
Reid also defended the Democrats’ use of reconciliation to get a final health care reform bill to the president’s desk, noting that the bulk of health care reform was approved under regular order via the package that cleared the Senate on Christmas Eve. Reid also emphasized that Republicans have used the procedure several times over the years.
But hey, noooooobody’s talking reconciliation, right, Harry?
What now? With the Slaughter solution toast, Philip Klein reports on the House Dems’ next move coming Monday:
Rep. Paul Ryan says that Democrats are ready to ram a “shell” health care bill through the Budget Committee, on which he serves as ranking Republican member, to use as a vehicle to impose national health care.
In a phone interview with TAS Thursday afternoon, Ryan said that he expects Democrats to begin the complex process on Monday, under which they would have the Budget Committee approve a phantom bill by midnight, which they will then send over to the Rules Committee. At that point, the Rules Committee will strip out all of the language in the phantom bill, and insert the changes to the Senate bill that Democrats have negotiated.
“They don’t have the votes right now, but they’re creating the vehicle so that they can airdrop in whatever changes they want,” Ryan said.
He said that Republicans are outnumbered 2-to-1 on his committee and don’t have the votes to stop the bill there. Democrats will also be able to prevent Republicans from offering any amendments, but GOP members will be able to offer “motions to instruct” the Rules Committee, that Ryan said will be used highlight problems with the “unprecedented” step that Democrats are taking.
He said he expected Democrats to dust off last year’s health care bills from the Education and Labor and Ways and Means Committees, to use as the vehicle for reconciliation changes.