Over the last two years of the Obama administration, Republicans went on a rampage, setting a record for the most filibusters – the process of debating an issue with the eventual outcome of slowing down or stopping the policy from being voted on – in one year since the practice began back in the mid 19th century. That record, set by the 111th congress is 132 filibusters. Now that the Republicans are the majority in the House of Representatives, they are demanding that the Democratic controlled Senate vote on all the bills the House votes on.
The particular bill that Republicans are demanding the Senate to vote on is their measure to repeal the Health Care Reform bill, the single most important piece of legislation instituted by Democrats. The House of Representatives voted last week to repeal the bill by a vote of 245 to 189, and now Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate minority leader is promising “No”, insisting that the Democratic Senate vote on the issue and do the same. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has stated he has no interest in bringing this repeal issue to the Senate.
In a television appearance on Fox News yesterday, Mr. McConnell assured the viewers that he will make sure the Senate votes to take away their health care. When asked how he intends to override Harry Reid’s decision not to bring the bill to the floor for a vote, Mitch said;
“I’m not going to discuss how we’ll do it from a parliamentary point of view here. If that does not pass, and I don’t think anyone is optimistic that it will, we intend to go after this health care bill in every way that we can.”
As minority leader, Mitch McConnell cannot set the agenda for the Senate, but the belief among other congressional leaders is that the Republicans in the could offer the repeal bill as an amendment to another bill, thus, forcing the Senate to have the vote. Democratic Senator from Illinois Dick Durbin discussed this possibility;
“If some Republican senator wants to offer it as an amendment at some point, it’s possible they will. It’s possible we’ll face that vote. But having spoken to my members in the Democratic caucus, with Sen. Reid, we feel there’s still strong support for health care reform.”
The lies and scare tactics used by Republicans in the Health Care debate of 2009 have caused a split among the American people. In early polls, taken when the bill was being debated in congress, as much as 60% of the public believed the Republican propaganda against health care reform. But recent polls have shown a change in the public’s perception of the law. According to a recent Associated Press-GFK poll, only 1 out of 4 (25%) Americans are now asking for Republicans to repeal the bill. With poll numbers like these, Democrats are feeling optimistic that the bill will stand up against any amendment trick brought on by the senate. Chuck Schumer, Democratic Senator from New York appeared on CBS, and expressed his optimism;
“If the Republicans offer an amendment on the floor, then we will require them to vote on the individual protections in the bill that are very popular and that even some of the new Republicans House members have said they support. So in the end, their repeal bill is going to be so full of holes it looks like Swiss cheese.”
Individual parts of the bill that have shown strong support among the American people include: allowing young adults to remain on parent’s policy until the age of 26; ending pre-existing conditions for children that went into effect in 2010; ending pre-existing condition for adults that will go into effect in 2014; helping to close the “donut hole” for seniors needing prescription drugs; providing preventative care screenings among others.
The individual mandate in the bill, which requires everyone to obtain health care insurance, is the major contention with the American people. Democrats argue that this mandate is necessary to ensure the improved level of care required in the bill.
If Republicans succeed in getting Senate Democrats to vote on an amended bill with health care repeal as an attachment, the bill will need 60 votes to pass. Democrats control the Senate with 53 votes, with Republicans in the minority with 47. If 13 Democrats crossed party lines and voted with Republicans to achieve the needed 60, the repeal bill then goes to President Obama’s desk for a signature. The President, however, has promised to veto any repeal bill that makes its way to the White House.
- Republicans Press for Senate Vote on Health Care (abcnews.go.com)
- Mitch McConnell: “I Assure You There Will Be A Vote On Repeal” Of Obamacare (sayanythingblog.com)
- Health Clash Senate Bound (online.wsj.com)