GOP Plots to Shut Down Senate If Dems Use Procedural Moves to Push Health Reforms

Roll Call:


As Senate Democrats move closer to using reconciliation to pass health care reform this year, key GOP Senators are signaling plans to avenge the move by employing parliamentary tactics to trip up even the most noncontroversial of agenda items.

Although Senate Democrats are far from reaching a consensus on the reconciliation issue, party leaders confirmed Wednesday that they are reserving the right to use it to pass health care reform if Republicans fail to negotiate in good faith. Senate Republicans — saying they have every intention of being a full partner in the upcoming health care negotiations — said holding reconciliation in reserve could poison the discussions, and threatened retribution.

“If they go down that road, I think the fur is going to fly,” Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairman John Thune (S.D.) said. “I suspect that there is going to be an awful lot of resistance, and we will exercise our prerogatives so that the rules of the Senate are respected.”

Some top GOP Senators declined to speculate on how their Conference would respond if Democrats use reconciliation to pass health care reform. Senior Republican Senate aides say it is too early to discuss retaliation for something that might not occur; they prefer to focus instead on trying to shape a bill that they can embrace.

But other key Republican Senators were candid that reconciliation, while difficult for them to stop, would prompt them to try to trip up Democratic priorities — large and small.

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