You are here:HomeIssuesHealth Care Reform2010Senate Republicans Prepare for Last-Ditch Derailing Effort

Senate Republicans Prepare for Last-Ditch Derailing Effort

Senate Republicans are preparing a last-ditch effort to disrupt the Democrats' health-care push, but it was not clear how successful they would be at using...
March 25, 2010

Senate Republicans are preparing a last-ditch effort to disrupt the Democrats' health-care push, but it was not clear how successful they would be at using procedural moves to tie up the final piece of the plan.

Republicans now plan a full-scale assault on the fixes bill when the Senate begins debating it Tuesday. Any success in blocking the measure would not stop the overhaul from becoming law. but it would cause political problems for Democrats. The House passed the Senate bill, knowing it contained politically unpalatable items such as a special deal to help Nebraska with Medicaid costs. The House passed a fixes bill that removes such items and makes other changes.

Democrats in the Senate plan to try to pass the "fixes" bill using budget reconciliation, meaning only 51 votes would be required for passage as opposed to a 60-vote supermajority. This opens up the possibility of procedural challenges by Republicans. Under Senate rules, reconciliation can only be used for budget-related legislation. Republicans are expected to raise many "points of order" as debate proceeds, and they are also expected to offer amendments.

Republicans have been scouring the fixes bill for anything that does not directly affect revenue or spending that could require a change. An altered bill, if passed, would have to go back to the House for another vote. The arbiter of these "points of order" is Alan Frumin, the Senate parliamentarian. It is possible that Furmin could rule parts of the bill, or all of it, are not subject to reconciliation and thus, requiring 60 votes to stop a filibuster.

What It Means to Agents: It is important to remember that the fixes bill is not the reform bill that was signed on Tuesday and is now law. The only way the reform bill could be undone would be if both the House and Senate were to pass a repeal bill - unlikely in the House, and especially unlikely in the Senate where the 60-vote threshold would apply. The other way the reform bill could be undone would be through a successful court challenge.

Congressional Research Service: Report to Congress on Reconciliation Process