John Kyl misunderstood? Says offering up amendments in reconciliation process would be ineffective

There seems to be some confusion in regards to the reconciliation process.  John Kyle says that offering up amendments would be ineffective because there wouldn’t be time to debate the amendments given there are only 20 hours to debate the bill.  The problem with Kyl’s stance is that the amendments won’t need to be debated.  The GOP can insist that every amendment be read on the floor.  Given that the GOP could offer up hundreds of amendments several hundred pages long each and insist they all be read on the Senate floor, this would stall the Senate until the Second Coming. 

Also, remember ex-parliamentarian Robert Dove said that health care and reconciliation would be a bad mix.  The key passages from the article highlight the difficulty:

“This process is not designed to do a lot of policy making and it would be very difficult to achieve a number of things that people want to achieve” in the healthcare reform legislation, Dove said. “This could be a very long, exhausting process.”

Not only was budget reconciliation created and modified as a means to enact laws to reduce the deficit, which means all the provisions must result in a change in budgetary outlays, but the parliamentarian wields considerable authority to strip anything from the bill that he or she deems to be extraneous, Dove said.Dove oversaw some budget reconciliation measures in his time and, he notes, ruled out around 300 provisions from a 1995 budget reconciliation bill.

The parliamentarian can rule any provisions as “incidental” and remove it from the bill if he or she judges that its purpose is to write new policy not simply to alter the federal budget. “The ‘incidental’ test is a very difficult test because it is very subjective,” Dove said. “You are trying to judge peoples’ motives,” he said. The Senate can overturn the parliamentarian’s rulings with 60 votes — but if Democrats had 60 votes, they would not be using reconciliation. Dove also noted that Vice President Joe Biden, in his Constitutional role as President of the Senate, is the ultimate authority and could overrule the parliamentarian. He added, though, that “no vice president, frankly, since Nelson Rockefeller in 1975, has exercised that right.

Senators are also entitled to offer as many amendments as they choose during reconciliation. Though Democrats have a large enough majority to beat back GOP attempts to alter the bill, neither they nor the parliamentarian can limit the number of amendments introduced, Dove said.

Kyl’s veiled concern might be how the GOP might be perceived in delaying the bill until the mid-terms.  Democrats seem to be hell-bent on claiming “Bush did it” with using reconciliation to get tax cuts pushed through.  However, they intentionally neglect to point out one important factor.  The majority of the public SUPPORTED the tax cuts.  The majority of the American people DO NOT support this health care and want the current bills scrapped.  If there is a concern of how the GOP will be portrayed as obstructionists, the party of NO, etc., the GOP won’t have to worry about it.  If anything, public support for the GOP will solidify and strengthen as they draw out this process with unlimited amendments.  Not only that, but they will challenge with points of order via the Byrd rule,  object to unanimous consent, etc.  They can completely shut down the Senate until the mid-term elections.

The Democrats will go on a massive media blitz villifying the GOP for these tactics but it will fall on deaf ears.  The GOP should have no worries about petrifying the Senate with shutdown tactics to stop Obamacare being rammed down the people’s throats.

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