It appears Senator Majority Leader Reid may not be able to push healthcare through under reconciliation.
As it turns out, Senate Democrats may not be able to force healthcare legislation through the chamber on a simple majority vote.
Republicans say they have found a loophole in the budget reconciliation process that could allow them to offer an indefinite number of amendments.
Though it has never been done, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) says he’s prepared to test the Senate’s stamina to block the Democrats from using the process to expedite changes to the healthcare bill.
Experts on Senate procedural rules, from both parties, note that such a filibuster is possible. While reconciliation rules limit debate to 20 hours, senators lack similiarconstraints on amendments and could conceivably continue offering them until 60 members agree to cut the process off.
Such a move by Senator DeMint could force the bill to be withdrawn as the options for the Dems are limited.
Another option for Democrats would be to seek a ruling by the parliamentarian that Republicans are simply filing amendments to stall the process. But such a ruling could taint the final healthcare vote and backfire for Democrats in November.
If those options failed, and Reid couldn’t convince a single Republican to vote with his 59-member conference, Democrats might be forced to consider withdrawing the healthcare bill.
Two words for Senator DeMint: Thank you.
Two words for the Senate Republicans: Stick together.
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