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September 22, 2013

Obamacare Defunding Bumps Into Senate Rules

Byron York: "Here is the defunders' dilemma. Senate rules require a cloture vote -- that is, a 60-vote margin -- to begin debate and then to limit debate on the continuing resolution that contains the defunding language. If Republicans vote to do both -- after all, they support defunding and want it to go forward -- then after the vote to limit debate, Majority Leader Harry Reid can propose an amendment to strike the defunding provision. The rules allow that amendment to be passed on a simple majority vote. That means Democrats could strip out the language, and then pass -- again, on a simple majority vote -- a 'clean' spending resolution funding the government but making no change in Obamacare, and send it back to the House."

"When Republicans who oppose the defunding gambit pointed out what the rules allow Reid to do, defunding proponents called it a 'procedural trick' and came up with an alternative strategy: Yes, Republicans should vote to begin debate on the bill. But they should then vote in a bloc against limiting debate. That would stop dead the entire continuing resolution --including the defunding provision -- as the clock ticks toward a possible government shutdown. Nothing could go forward. Republicans would then press Reid to adopt a procedure that would require a 60-vote threshold to pass an amendment striking the defunding provision. At that point, if the Senate's 46 Republicans remain united, Reid's amendment could not pass."


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