The White House is strongly urging Senators to include budget reconciliation language in the health care section of the budget, a move Republicans have characterized as a “deceleration of war.”
Indeed, after pushing everything from the Contract with America, to welfare reform, to tax cuts targeted at the rich, to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, using reconciliation and even firing successive Senate parliamentarians who disagreed with their use of reconciliation, Republicans are now threatening to “trip up Democratic priorities — large and small” should reconciliation instructions be found in the final budget. According to The Hill:
The GOP might first go after White House nominations. Republicans could require each appointee to get a separate hearing and a separate roll call vote. They could stop attending committee hearings, and decline to provide “unanimous consent” to move forward on even the most benign issues or routine Senate business. Republicans could also demand that the text of bills, which are often hundreds of pages long, be read aloud. These tactics could grind the Senate to a virtual halt, Republicans say.
Of course, if you don’t give, you’re not gonna get and Republicans have shown only limited willingness to cooperate with Democrats on health care reform. Key Republicans voted against the popular SCHIP legislation, eight Republican senators (including health care heavy weights Grassely and Hatch) voted against Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Service, Republicans misrepresented the intent of health information technology and comparative effectiveness research in the stimulus, encouraged smear groups to lie about CER and health IT, invited Easter special Sally Pipes to testify about health care reform, and have already taken the public option off the table.
14,000 Americans are losing their health care coverage every single day and, instead of seriously considering the President’s proposal, Republicans are busy painting health care reform in red. They’re looking to win a political fight (not have a policy debate) and prevent a Democratic victory on health care. But why should Democrats concede reconciliation, when Republicans, who have made such good use of the procedure when in the majority, are offering them nothing in return?
In another sign of Republican cooperation, the Washington Post’s Ceci Connolly is reporting that “Senate Republicans refused today to allow a confirmation vote on his health secretary nominee Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.”