Speaking on Fox News last night, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) claimed that health care reform should not happen because it doesn’t enjoy “bipartisan” support, adding that a bill cannot be bipartisan unless it garners “somewhere between 75 and 80 votes.” Watch it:
Hatch is hardly the only conservative senator to float a 75–80 vote supermajority requirement for health reform. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who is currently blocking attempts to fix the health care system, told the Washington Post that “[w]e ought to be focusing on getting 80 votes.” Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) demanded “a bill that 75 or 80 senators can support.”
Hatch, Grassley, and Enzi all sang a very different tune when they were in the majority, however:
— Tax Cuts For The Rich: In May 2001, the Senate passed President Bush’s budget-breaking $1.35 trillion tax cuts with only 58 votes. Nevertheless, Hatch announced that he was “extremely proud of this bipartisan bill.” Grassley praised the tax cuts as “built upon bipartisanship,” and Enzi praised the Senate for passing the bill in a “bipartisan fashion.”
— Subsidies For Drug Companies: In November 2003, the Senate passed a prescription drug plan for seniors that was strongly backed by lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry with only 54 votes. Nevertheless, Grassley released a statement praising himself as the “lead Senate architect of the bipartisan legislation” creating this plan.
— Nuclear Option: Four years ago, when Senate Democrats filibustered seven of President Bush’s 205 nominees to the federal bench, conservatives deemed the filibuster unconstitutional and invented a tactic known as the “nuclear option” to ram the blocked nominees through the Senate. Hatch and Grassley were on the vanguard of the movement to block any attempt to require judges to be confirmed by a supermajority. Hatch described the filibuster as “unconstitutional,” and Grassley described judicial filibusters as “an abuse of our function under the Constitution.”
Now that conservatives make up only a tiny minority of the Senate, however, they’ve decided that even the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold isn’t a strong enough barrier to block much-needed reform. Instead, Hatch, Grassley, and Enzi now want to impose a 75–80 vote superfilibuster standard that will effectively kill any health care plan they don’t personally approve of.