Patterico's Pontifications


ObamaCare: The sound of gridlock

Filed under: General — Karl @ 11:16 am

[Posted by Karl]

The Hill is alive with the sound of gridlock:

On the third day of a divisive debate, Democrats threatened to keep the Senate in session through the Christmas holiday if necessary to pass a healthcare reform bill that President Barack Obama has made his top domestic priority.

Republicans refused to agree to the timing of votes on either of the first two amendments — a Democratic plan to ease access to preventive health screenings for women and a Republican effort to restore more than $400 billion in cuts in Medicare, the government health program for the elderly and disabled.

While Dick Durbin huffed, “We’re not going to let them run this bill into the ground into next year,” there are potentially dozens of amendments to debate. And there have been any number of news reports in which top Dems (including Durbin) have expressed doubts that they would be done by Christmas. So why the early foot-stamping (of which the establishment media’s feigned shock that the GOP actually has a memo outlining their rights as a minority is a part)?

You might think that the Democratic tantrum stems from the realization that ObamaCare continues to lose public support. Senate Dems actually think they get some benefit from painting the GOP as obstructionist. But that may be an attempt to paper over the fact that Senate Democrats cannot do much to speed up the debate:

The main possibility being considered is that Reid could move to table irrelevant Republican amendments.


That could set off a dangerous dynamic, wherein Republicans table Democratic amendments, too, including some amendments (on issues like abortion and the public option) that are key to the rounding up the 60 votes Democrats need to overcome a filibuster and pass the bill.


Without a prefigured agreement, amendments that aren’t tabled can be filibustered, which can slow the debate down by days at a time.

Reid has other options at his disposal–he can file cloture on the bill itself, or “fill the amendment tree”–if the status quo breaks down entirely, but these prerogatives are typically saved, to be used as a last resort.

In fact, at this juncture, Reid does not have those options as a practical matter. The Democrats are not likely to have a “moderate” proposal on the so-called “public option” before next week (and you may have noticed that these timetables have a way of slipping). Reid cannot have the slightest hope of invoking cloture on the bill until the Dems have found some sort of consensus alternative to the “public option” Reid insisted in sticking into his merged proposal. Similarly, the Senate will burn time debating and voting on pro-life language from the House bill that Reid kept out of his bill. If only the GOP was doing as much as the Democratic leadership to drag out the debate on ObamaCare…


12 Responses to “ObamaCare: The sound of gridlock”

  1. somebody call a SigAlert!

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  2. “Senate Dems actually think they get some benefit from painting the GOP as obstructionist”

    Indeed a mistake. People won’t care for process but they do care for results. A better bill with a shit process is much better than a shit bill with good process. Crying about obstructionism won’t help.

    imdw (6606df)

  3. This is the time that skill in parliamentary rules is key. A wily opposition can turn a majority in knots. I think McConnell is good enough. It is especially fun when the other side has more than its quota of idiots. Too bad Biden has to sit up there in the chair and be quiet. He would be good for a laugh or two.

    MIke K (2cf494)

  4. One thing in McConnell’s favor is the illness of Byrd, who is the acknowledged master of Senate protocol and parliamentary maneuver.

    AD - RtR/OS! (2eab1e)

  5. Oh, don’t you worry about the Grand Keagle making the grand entrance when necessary – they wheeled Kennedy in when he was in his death throes, and they’ll do exactly the same with Byrd. If he’s got a pulse, they’ll take his right hand and move it up and down for him.

    Dmac (a964d5)

  6. How will they see it moving under the sheet?

    AD - RtR/OS! (2eab1e)

  7. So dumb.

    It’s a “hot issue” because the President wants a bill. But he can’t be bothered to supply one that outlines his vision, so he delegates the onerous task (and the blame) to the big brains in Congress, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

    Yeah. Good luck with that plan.

    mojo (8096f2)

  8. Even as the polls plummet downward against the healthcare proposals in congress the Democrats ignore the will of the people and continue to push on. Don’t the Dems realize that when they so publicly paint Republicans as obstructionists and accuse Republicans of just saying “no” that that is actually GOOD for the Republicans’ image on this issue? The American people WANT the legislative works gummed up. They WANT Obamacare to fail.

    elissa (9bac90)

  9. This is an encouraging blog and comments. Can we really hope that Obamacare will fail?

    krusher (326b4d)

  10. krusher, what with early primaries and all, the Dummycrats will definitely see the signs in early 2010–those self-same signs that are already clearly visible to all but the most hardened Dummycrats.

    John Hitchcock (3fd153)

  11. I think it’s interesting that the birther post has 215 comments and this one has 12. Maybe that’s an optimistic indicator. Personally, I wish I was in Cabo San Lucas on my boat right now. Time to bug out.

    MIke K (2cf494)

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