Sen. Judd Gregg explains the Republican strategy on reconciliation
My colleague Frank Ahrens chats with Sen. Judd Gregg about the GOP's strategy for obstructing the reconciliation package. It looks grim for Gregg. His big play was to scare the House Democrats by saying 310(g) over and again. Gregg said that the bill could be "brought down" by this budget objection. Today, the Senate parliamentarian ruled against him. That means he can't bring down the bill.
Sen. Tom Coburn admitted the reality of the Republicans' option when he was asked on CNBC whether they could stop the bill. "No," he replied. "We'll put a few holes in it, but basically it's going to come through here because they've done a good job crafting it."
More specifically, the GOP is left with two options: try and persuade the parliamentarian to strike specific provisions (creating the "holes" Coburn mentioned) or try to get Democrats to take hard votes.
In the first case, you could see the parliamentarian force small changes to the reconciliation package, which would require the House to ratify it again after the Senate passes it so that both chambers have voted on the exact same bill. That may annoy the House, but it's not a particularly big deal.
In the second case, Republicans will try and embarrass Democrats by making them vote against amendments that sound good but would hurt the bill. The first amendment, Gregg says, "will require that Medicare savings go to protect Medicare." Again, that may be annoying to Senate Democrats, but it's not some cunning gambit that will lead them to accidentally defund the health-care bill. And it doesn't sound like Republicans are planning to shut the chamber down with endless amendments of that sort (though you never know). So it looks like the reconciliation package should pass this week.
Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
March 23, 2010; 1:54 PM ET
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