ObamaCare Nuclear Option -- Ignores the Voters and Empowers Vice President Biden

The Democrats plan to ram ObamaCare through Congress is going to be difficult to implement.  They have come up with a complex strategy to use the ObamaCare Nuclear Option, budget reconciliation, to get ObamaCare to the President’s desk by Easter.  One of the difficulties this complex procedure is to convince politically nervous moderate Democrats that although the content and tactics to pass ObamaCare are unpopular, they need to take one for the team and risk defeat to make history.  Recent events show that the left does not care that ObamaCare is unpopular.  They seem to be willing to use any and all means necessary to get the bill passed Congress.

This is one of the most unpopular bills in the past 20 years, yet many in Congress would rather make history than listen to the will of the people.  House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA) shed some light on the will of House Democrats to pass the bill when he said on C-SPAN on February 26th that “I think the members will vote for this.  I think the members understand the historical position they are in.”  They have contempt for the whole idea of representing the will of Americans on this issue and the liberals have no reservation about chucking moderate Democrats under the electoral bus. 

From a February 25th Gallup poll taken before the so called summit:

Americans are skeptical that lawmakers will agree on a new healthcare bill at Thursday’s bipartisan healthcare summit in Washington, D.C. If an agreement is not reached, Americans by a 49% to 42% margin oppose rather than favor Congress passing a healthcare bill similar to the one proposed by President Obama and Democrats in the House and Senate. By a larger 52% to 39% margin, Americans also oppose the Democrats in the Senate using a reconciliation procedure to avoid a possible Republican filibuster and pass a bill by a simple majority vote.

Part of the plan is to use Vice President Biden, in his constitutional capacity as President of the Senate, to shut down debate and ignore the rules during Senate consideration to meet an Easter deadline.

Sam Stein writes for The Huffington Post

Should passing health care reform come down to the use of reconciliation — and all signs point that way — Vice President Joseph Biden could play a hugely influential role in determining not only what’s in the bill but whether or not it passes. Two experts in the arcane rules of the Senate said on Monday that, as president of the Senate, Biden has the capacity not just to overrule any ruling that the parliamentarian may make but also to cut off efforts by Republicans to offer unlimited amendments.

First of all, the piece implies that the Senate Parliamentarian makes binding rulings on the Senate.  The fact of the matter is that Vice President Biden can ignore the advisory opinions of the Parliamentarian.  For that matter, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) can designate a Senator to sit in the Chair and issue friendly rulings if the Democrat caucus is behind him.  The left would love for Biden or another Democrat Senator to take the Chair if Republicans start raising objections and shut them down.  The left is urging Senate Democrats to take a hard line by issuing rulings that stifle dissent and severely limit debate.

Robert Dove, former Senate Parliamentarian told MSNBC that “it is the decision of the Vice President whether or not to play a role.”  The “Byrd Rule” forbids matters that are incidental to the reconciliation process.  That rule could be set aside by the Vice President.  All the Democrats would need is a simple majority to sustain the ruling of the Vice President when challenged by a point of order.  If the Vice President has the will to issue friendly rulings, he can make Parliamentarian irrelevant.

The left would really like Biden to run the Senate with an iron fist.  One of the rights of the minority in the Senate during the reconciliation process is the right to unlimited amendments, with no debate, at the end of the process.  This is a problem for Democrats.  As Sam Stein describes in his Huffington piece, at some poing during the amendment process, VP Biden could rule the amendments out of order so as to shut down the amendment process.  Stein explains:

However, Biden, as president of the Senate, could effectively put an end to that process by ruling that the amendments are not germane to the legislation and ordering the chamber to proceed to an up or down vote.  “The vice president can rule that amendments are dilatory,” Norm Ornstein, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and one of the foremost experts on congressional process, told the Huffington Post. “That they are not serious attempts to amend the bill but are designed without substance to obstruct. He can rule them out of order and he can do that on bloc.”

Get ready for high stakes war between the parties on the reconcilation process.  The rules are complex and tough to understand, yet the simple fact is that Dems are willing to destroy the future of many moderate Democrats, trash the rules of the Senate and ignore the consent of the governed to get ObamaCare.  The ObamaCare Nuclear Option is something Democrats will use if they think they can get away with it.