So the House Republicans passed a continuing resolution to keep the government open but defund PPACA (ObamaCare). They know it can’t conceivably pass in the Senate, and assuming they can count–which grows ever more doubtful–they know they’re not even within sniffing distance of a veto-proof majority in their own chamber.
And yet they celebrated, as though they had actually accomplished something.
“We had a victory today for the American people, and frankly, we also had a victory for common sense,” Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said, surrounded by more than 200 cheering lawmakers at a news conference at the Capitol.
Do any of them understand how our government actually works?
Fortunately Sarah Binder, and she explains how the Senate can take up the House Bill, strip it of the defund provision, and pass a “clean” CR (still no real budget, though) while protecting Obamacare.
Democrats have to take a few steps to set up a vote to strip the ObamaCare defunding provision from the bill. Reid/Democrats will probably offer an amendment, in the form of a “motion to strike” the defunding language… Reid might also “fill the amendment tree,” meaning that he would fill up all of the remaining amendment slots with inconsequential amendments to block GOP senators from attempting to amend the CR themselves.
With the motion to strike defunding pending, Reid would file cloture on the BILL. Keep in mind that the BILL is still the House bill (CR+defund). Any GOP effort to block cloture again puts the GOP on the wrong side: Republicans would be blocking a CR that defunds ObamaCare. Assuming Reid again gets 60 vote for cloture, that brings the Senate to its customary 30 hours of “post-cloture” consideration time (including time spent on debate, voting, and so on.)
This is the most important part, because this is when the Senate would vote on the motion to strike. The 30-hour time cap post-cloture means that by definition there cannot be a filibuster of any of the votes that are attempted during the 30-hour period. In other words, there would be no need for Reid to file cloture on the amendment: Any effort to talk the amendment to death would have to end when the 30 hours were exhausted. Under Senate rules, amendments only require a simple majority to pass, allowing Democrats alone to strike the defunding language from the bill. So, the motion to strike would be brought up for a vote, it would pass by simple majority, and then after 30 hours are over (or earlier if Cruz and others tire of the fight), the Senate would move to the final up-or down, simple majority vote on the now-amended bill (stripped clean of the defunding provision). Ball then is in Boehner’s court.
I don’t see any way in which the House GOP can win this fight. They’ve made their principled stance and taken their best shot at forcing the Senate’s hand, but they can’t actually win. The only thing they can do is force a government shutdown, and that’s a loss for them, too.
But will the Tea Partiers ever recognize that? And if they do, will they care?