Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has set the stage for a major vote Monday morning at 1:00 AM – one that would require the support of 60 Senators. That would, if all goes according to Senator Reid’s plan, set up a late-night Christmas Eve vote on final passage. Senator Reid also used a rare procedure to block any further amendments from being offered, debated or voted upon.
When it comes time for Senators to cast their vote at 1:00AM Monday morning, shortly after Sunday Night Football ends and most Americans are in bed, they will have had less than 38 hours to understand a 383-page amendment that introduces several new concepts into the health care debate, including:
-- A scheme that gives the Office of Personal Management immense power in administering what amounts to a multi-state public plan;
-- How much a state “opt-out” of abortion coverage in the legislation erodes the long-standing Hyde-amendment;
-- The budgetary impact of ELIMINATING the physician reimbursement fix; and,
-- Multiple new taxes, federal regulations and sweet-heart deals aimed toward certain states like Nebraska.
It is important for Americans to understand the process being used by the Senate. Barring any procedural snags (of which there are many in the Senate’s complex rules and precedents), the debate is likely to play out as follows:
-- Monday, 1:00 AM – Vote to invoke cloture (i.e. end debate) on the manager’s amendment. 60 votes are necessary.
-- Tuesday, 7:00 AM – Vote to approve the manager’s amendment. A majority vote is necessary.
-- Tuesday, 8:00 AM – Vote to invoke cloture on the original Reid substitute amendment (the 2,000-page bill). 60 votes are necessary.
-- Wednesday, 2:00 PM – Vote to approve the Reid substitute amendment. A majority vote is necessary.
-- Wednesday, 3:00 PM – Vote to invoke cloture on the underlying bill. 60 votes are necessary.
-- Thursday, 9:00 PM – Vote to approve the underlying bill (i.e. the Senate’s version of Obamacare). A majority vote is necessary.
Last January, President Obama told his senior staff that “transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.” Now, an unconstitutional health care proposal that was drafted behind closed doors and poised to be approved while Americans are not looking will become the touchstone of his presidency. Surely this was not what the American people signed up for.