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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.

By Ezra Klein  |  March 23, 2010; 1:54 PM ET
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Next: Poll: Health-care reform more popular after passage than before


never underestimate the republicans ability to stall legislative activities. They use the procedural equivalent of sit down strikes every day in the senate.

Posted by: srw3 | March 23, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

"eliminate the individual mandate"

This one would play awfully well and it would be crippling to the bill. It fits with the republican idea of not requiring people to pay the goverment money.

Posted by: spotatl | March 23, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

This obstructionist tomfoolery is way out of hand. Next, the Repubs will burn down the Senate chamber and then object to the bill because there is no place to vote on it.

The concept of a 'bitter-ender' is probably well understood, but has the term ever applied to an entire party in the government?

I guess if the GOP thinks their entire audience is Faux News, Politico, Drudge and the Washington Times (maybe CNN too), they might not realize how stupak they look to those of us way out here in the boonies.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | March 23, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Looks like someone forgot to close an italics tag in this post - probably the one for the photo credit.

Presumably, the "use Medicare savings for Medicare" amendment would, under Paygo rules, require its sponsor to come up with a big pile of money to fill the hole in the just-signed bill's funding. Wonder if anyone will remind Gregg of that.

Posted by: rt42 | March 23, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Gregg should have said "310(grrrrrr!)" over and over. That's the scary way to do it.

Posted by: bdballard | March 23, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Opposition right now just means that Republicans want to preserve all the features of the Senate bill without the changes passed by the House.

Democrats should point out that, in doing so, Republicans are actually voting *for* the Nelson deal, the Landrieu deal, and the other components of the Senate bill that they have claimed not to like.

Posted by: jeffwacker | March 23, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

The first amendment, Gregg says, "will require that Medicare savings go to protect Medicare."

So, the GOP was against medicare before they were for it.

I swear, if the Dem shouted the sky was blue, the repubs would insist it was actually red.

Posted by: Lomillialor | March 23, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

@ Lomillialor : Well the sky is red about 5% of the time (sun rise and sunset), which is about the % that republicans tell the truth.

Posted by: srw3 | March 23, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: visionbrkr | March 23, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

One day there will be no person on the planet Earth that is deprived of quality medical attention. It is their birthright. Jungle bound natives in Africa and in the swamps of Brazil will not be neglected. Help is on the way with a universal data base containing each persons medical records on an ID card. The new national healthcare bill signed by the president is the first step on the path to that reality. No longer will privacy be important, our lives will be an open book. There will be no hiding place for germs or viruses.

Posted by: melvin_polatnick | March 23, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

"Jungle bound natives in Africa and in the swamps of Brazil"

who wrote this, rudyard kipling.....robert louis stevenson?

good Lord.

Posted by: jkaren | March 23, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

why don't gregg and his fellow repubicans dro their own health care in protest?

Posted by: newagent99 | March 24, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

There was another poll result released yesterday by Bloomberg that showed a different public reaction: no change at all, margin of error +/- 3.1%. So why didn't you at least include it instead of putting all your assertion marbles into one basket? Especially when the poll you cited has a margin of error of +/- 4%.

Posted by: infuse | March 24, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

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