“Just because it’s been used before for lesser issues, doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for this issue,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on CNN’s State of the Union.
Speaking with CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, the Kentucky Republican also predicted that health care reform legislation would not get a single GOP vote in the Senate and that Democrats would move forward without the GOP through use of reconciliation.
Citing a recent Gallup survey, the leading Republican noted that a majority of Americans do not favor use of the special Senate procedure to pass health care reform. “The American people do not want us to use that kind of parliamentary device to jam this down their throats,” said McConnell.
With a showdown over reconciliation looking very likely, McConnell refused to discuss the parliamentary tactics the GOP might use to frustrate Democrats in their plan to pass aspects of health care reform with a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate.
“It won’t surprise you to know,” McConnell told Crowley, “that I wouldn’t want to lay out in advance the approaches that might be taken to prevent that from happening.”
According to the Congressional Research Service, reconciliation has been used 22 times since 1981 and the procedure has been used frequently in the past to change important federal policies.
After an upset loss last month in a Massachusetts special Senate election, Senate Democrats were left one vote short of the 60 votes they need to block a Republican filibuster of a health care reform bill. Since then, Democratic leaders, particularly House Speak Nancy Pelosi, have begun to suggest openly that they will use reconciliation to get one of President Obama’s top domestic agenda priorities enacted.
After a year of legislative work characterized by several missed deadlines for completing work on the health care reform bill, Democrats are now shooting to have the bill passed by the end of March. The Democrats’ plan entails the House passing, unchanged, the health care reform bill passed by the Senate late last year and then sending it to the president. Then, a package of changes that mirror the President Obama’s recently released plan would be passed through both chambers under reconciliation rules, which would need only 51 votes in the Senate. The two-step process would avoid having the Senate vote again on those aspects of the Democrats’ health care reform proposals which many political observers believe do not have the support of 60 senators.
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