The real reason why the health care bill failed
Democrats manipulate Senate rules to block the Trump agenda
“Our best shot at stopping the Republicans has always been to let them cannibalize themselves, and this proved that,” Caitlin Legacki, a Democratic strategist, said of the health care fight.
Half of Congress and 99 percent of the American people are oblivious to one of the primary forces that has so often caused Republicans in Congress to “cannibalize” themselves.
The present configuration and practice of the 60-vote “no-debate” rule of the Senate left House Republicans with two options: either overcome the impediment of what President Trump called the “very arcane rules” in the Senate to repealing and replacing Obamacare, or radically altering the original and very clearly stated objective of fully repealing and replacing Obamacare.
With good intentions, instead of articulating this conundrum to the public, or forthrightly addressing the Senate rules, House leadership chose to offer a bill that altered and fell far short of the original objective.
House Republicans attempted to repeal Obamacare through reconciliation (to circumvent the 60-vote “no-debate” rule). However, that meant the legislation
had to fit through the “Byrd Rule.” The present construal of the Byrd Rule simply did not allow for full repeal or full replacement because it would not allow the inclusion of the repeal of the Title I Obamacare mandates. These mandates were the heart of Obamacare and the drivers of increased premiums and deductibles. The vast majority of the Republican conference wanted to include the repeal of these mandates, and if this could have been included in the bill, it would have passed the House with north of 225 Republican votes.
One of the great tendencies in the political world is that we often attack each other rather than the problem. It astonishes me that the forensics of the recent health care bill debate in the Congress is focused upon who did what rather than on the “why” and the physics of the process that caused the outcome.
Senate rules obscured and subordinated best policy considerations, and once again brought and will continue to bring chaos and ruin to the best policy interests of the nation. Failure to address the underlying problem will only invite its return again and again. President Trump and the Republican Party ignore this at their peril.
Ironically, at this rate, a change in the Senate rules is on its way sooner than many might wish. When he thought Democrats would gain the majority in 2016, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said, “The country can’t be run this way, where nothing gets done. … Unless after this election there is a dramatic change to go back to the way it used to be [before the ‘no-debate stealth filibuster’] the Senate will have to evolve as it has in the past. … But it will evolve with a majority vote determining stuff. It is going to happen,” meaning that the majority, not 60 votes, would rule.
Democrats know Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court one way or the other. However, they desperately want to keep both main Senate filibusters in place so they can gridlock the Senate again and thereby regain control, at which time they will abolish one or both. It is the equivalent of saying, “Nice doggy, nice doggy” — until they can find a rock. Consequently, they are now floating a plan to suggest that they will not filibuster Neil Gorsuch if Senate Republicans will agree not to change the filibuster rules for the remainder of the Trump presidency. This would give Senate Democrats the ability to stop the remainder of the entire Trump legislative agenda along with the next Supreme Court confirmation when it will matter even more.
This Democrat plan is a blatantly obvious ploy of the first magnitude, and if “sophisticated” moderate Senate Republicans agree to it in order to extract themselves from the present conundrum, they will be remembered for cowardly betraying the Constitution and future American generations.
Democrats have a determined plan to make sure the agenda of the left advances in the U.S. Senate when they gain the majority again. The question that remains is do Republicans have a corresponding plan in these fleeting days of being in the majority?