According to sometimes-reliable Associated Press:
Conservative Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said in an interview that Republicans “won’t have any trouble having hundreds of amendments,” though he said each would make a valid point and not be aimed at delay.
I have some big problems with this, if it’s really true. First of all, a strategy of “messaging amendments” didn’t exactly work wonders back in December on the main Health Care Bill, so I wouldn’t be optimistic that it would work well on a reconciliation bill either. Secondly, the GOP has every right under the Senate Rules to delay the reconciliation bill by making as many amendments as the GOP wants to make. If the Democrats want to stop the amendments, they would have to invoke cloture on the reconciliation bill. Former Senate Parliamentarian Robert Dove explained on March 12:
John Fortier, American Enterprise Institute, Research Fellow: “The reconciliation process would result in a finite debate, but there is some talk about the question of Republicans being able to offer dilatory amendments and whether that might cause the parliamentarian or the chair to rule that those are somehow out of order. Without getting too much into process, what are your thoughts?”
Robert Dove, Former Senate Parliamentarian: “There is no such thing in the Senate as dilatory amendments unless you are using the cloture rule and you are under cloture. For amendments to be ruled dilatory outside of cloture would be a total departure from Senate practice. It has never happened. I hope it doesn’t happen now.”
Of course, if Democratic Senators cannot muster 60 votes to invoke cloture on reconciliation, they could by a simple majority invoke the nuclear option. But that’s true of every GOP filibuster on every bill. Why would Senator Coburn want to cave in on this particular bill? Or maybe Associated Press misquoted him. Does anyone have a transcript of the Coburn interview?