Procedure is Politics
I spent the day on Capitol Hill yesterday talking to House Dems and will be there all day today too. Here are seven reasons the Senate GOP, with Senator Byrd, are going to blindside the House Dems:
1) The House undecideds have been told by exactly no one of the existence of the Republican Senate letter with 41 signatures with their promise to uphold the Byrd rule, or its implications. (The effect of the Byrd rule is to immediately strip sections out of the House “fix” bill. Sixty Senate votes are needed to over-ride the Byrd rule.)
2) The House undecideds do not know that Senator Byrd will vote with the Republicans to up hold his rule. This means 41 GOP votes, plus at least Senator Byrd and perhaps other Dems, for a-hard-vote-count of 42 to up hold the rule. The Dems will never get their 60 votes to overturn the Byrd rule, and every part of the reconciliation bill that “legislates” must be stripped.
3) Vice President Biden could come to the Senate and over-rule each Byrd rule vote. Some Senate Dems say he will. But Vice President Biden will then have to change long-standing Senate rules and steamroller Senator Byrd, a Democrat, who is standing up for the Senate rules.
4) For example, the special five year break for the unions on taxing their health plans will be Byrd ruled. And when the Vice President comes to the Senate to change the rules to protect unions from a tax everyone else will be subject to — well, then the Kickback-Louisiana-Purchase-pass-ObamaCare-without-voting-on-it-over-rule-Byrd will all merge together to convince Seniors and Independents the Democrats are corrupt cheaters. Voters really hate corruption. The public also hates special deals for special interests. And the unions get exempt from a tax applied to everyone else. It will make Senator Nelson’s Nebraska Kickback look virtuous.
5) Procedure is politics. First, there is the Nebraska Kickback and the Louisiana Purchase, which even the House Dems understand hurt them politically.
Second, the Dems have not thought through or seriously understand what will happen to them if they pass ObamaCare without voting on it. This is the Slaughter plan to “deem” it passed. (For the Dems to live through it, would be like living through an on-target fire-for-effect from a battery of 105mm Howitzers.) The clarity of the U.S. Constitution on the fact that the House must vote on legislation to pass it, and the clear violation of the Slaughter rule will provide long-term legs for this, and make it a rallying cry for years.
6) Weirdly, the Dems in the House think that by passing the Senate bill health care will be over.
The House Dems think, incorrectly, that the Senate will move quickly. Is six weeks quickly? Is the Senate finishing in May what the House Dems had in mind? How can the dictatorial command and control House take months and the House Dems expect the Senate to pass reconciliation soon?
Health care will dominate the media all spring, unless the House kills it this week. Senator Hatch (R-UT) has said it will be all-out-war in the Senate. Death by germane and non-germane amendment. All the plans that were shelved by the Senate GOP leadership the first time the Senate bill came to the floor, will be actually used this time.
Senator Hatch is not a bomb-thrower. But the Senate Republicans will exact every second of political pain and suffering they can, and the longer this is on the Senate floor the more the Dems are hurt politically. (See every poll known to man on the subject of ObamaCare.)
7) At what point in the Senate-process-political-pain-and-suffering does the White House just pull the plug on the Senate reconciliation bill? After all, the House passed the Senate bill and it was signed into law. The White House is done. Won’t it be time to move on to other things?
And the House Dems who voted yes will have been played once more. Rode hard and put away wet.