The United States Senate is not only obviously much smaller than the House, but it operates under a set of rules that are vastly different and establish the deliberative body as unique in the way it functions. Some of these, such as the filibuster, have a long and storied history.
There are other rules as well that might seem unique to us, but are what set the Senate apart, with the body bound to traditions that affect its very identity. An old rule that has been recently discovered just may be the ticket for Republicans to easily pass an Obamacare repeal!
As the debate over the form of the replacement for Obamacare heats up, Senator Ted Cruz has discovered an arcane law from the 1970s that might be available for use in circumventing the filibuster rule when voting on the replacement healthcare bill in the Senate. This would mean the Republicans could pass a bill of their choosing with zero Democratic support. Well, it might be without Democratic support, but not without a lot of noise from their side of the aisle.
To understand what got this started requires an explanation of why parts of the bill are objectionable to conservatives. “The Hill explains exactly why the scope of this bill is so limited: ‘House Republicans left several reforms popular with conservatives out of their health care bill because the parliamentarian is likely to rule them outside the scope of special rules in the upper chamber that prevent a Democratic filibuster.'”
This all hinges on a Senate rule referred to as “reconciliation.” This is “a process which allows legislation that affects the budget but has a limited scope to be passed with only a simple Senate majority, leaving such bills immune to filibuster.”
Senator Cruz’s solution is a simple one. Invoke a provision from a law from the 1970s which allows Vice-President Pence as leader of the Senate to make the final ruling on whether a bill falls under the provisions of “reconciliation.” The assumption is he would obviously rule that way, the filibuster is prohibited, and the bill passes the Senate needing only Republican support.
Cruz offers some robust reasons for employing this tactic, “Cruz said this process would allow Republicans to include a number of provisions that would make the health care reform bill much more attractive to conservatives. For example, Cruz notes that Republicans could ‘repeal all of the insurance regulations in Obamacare that have increased premiums,’ in particular one that decreased competition by preventing insurers from selling across state lines.”
While Cruz has much support from conservatives in employing this approach, there remains that hesitancy about changing the way the Senate functions. Surprisingly, tradition remains alive there and we will have to see how this healthcare bill is ultimately formulated and moved through the legislative process.
Source: Independent Journal Review