I’ll level with you. I think this is huge, but the procedural chicanery has gotten so convoluted that I can’t be sure anymore. Could mean nothing.
Or, it could be something close to Waterloo.
The Senate Parliamentarian has ruled that President Barack Obama must sign Congress’ original health care reform bill before the Senate can act on a companion reconciliation package, senior GOP sources said Thursday.
The Senate Parliamentarian’s Office was responding to questions posed by the Republican leadership. The answers were provided verbally, sources said.
House Democratic leaders have been searching for a way to ensure that any move they make to approve the Senate-passed $871 billion health care reform bill is followed by Senate action on a reconciliation package of adjustments to the original bill. One idea is to have the House and Senate act on reconciliation prior to House action on the Senate’s original health care bill.
Information Republicans say they have received from the Senate Parliamentarian’s Office eliminates that option.
Basically, under normal circumstances, this ruling by the Parliamentarian combined with the GOP's threat to block any move to pull abortion funding should kill it. However, the Dems have been so apt to disregard normal processes and the Constitutionality of any move they've made over the past year that it's hard to make that statement any more.
Here's how Dan Perrin at RedState sums up the situation:
I think Gingrich's quote accurately summarizes the insanity of what the Dems have been doing over the past year. Go back and read it again, then just stop to think about it for a minute. Insane.
In the latest Mad-Magazine-like-Spy-vs.-Spy move, the House Dems have hatched a plan which reminds me of their ill-fated plan to delay seating Senator-elect Scott Brown until they had another ObamaCare vote on the Senate floor.
The Dems backed down. Similarly, they will back down from the Slaughter plan.
Former Speaker Gingrich describes the Slaughter plan in a tweet about a Brian Darling blog:
“Incredible. We’ve gone from passing bills without reading them to passing bills without voting on them.”
They haven’t tried it yet, they are thinking about it.
But now that the Senate Parliamentarian has ruled the obvious, that you can not vote on a reconciliation measure if the bill you are attempting to reconcile has not been signed into law — the Slaughter plan looks both desperate and comical.
It is also (obviously) unconstitutional and will, if carried out, create a public outcry that will make burning witches at the stake look rational.
Perrin goes on to predict that if the Dems try the Slaughter strategy, they will be completely annihilated in the next election. He also suggests the GOP petition the Supreme Court to make a quick ruling on the idea of passing such vast and sweeping legislation without voting on it in order to get the official (obvious) ruling of Unconstitutional and be done with it. Of course, the fact that we're even discussing such a thing is a bad sign of where the Dems have brought us, don't you think?
Anyway, in the aftermath of that development, conservative hero-in-the-making Paul Ryan maps out what appears to be the only avenue left to the Dems:
So, the latest 'final push' begins on Monday. It involves a wholesale abuse of legislative process, with the Dems substituting their health care takeover inside a completely different bill so they can pass it without actually passing it.
Rep. Paul Ryan says that Democrats are ready to ram a "shell" health care bill through the Budget Committee, on which he serves as ranking Republican member, to use as a vehicle to impose national health care.
In a phone interview with TAS Thursday afternoon, Ryan said that he expects Democrats to begin the complex process on Monday, under which they would have the Budget Committee approve a phantom bill by midnight, which they will then send over to the Rules Committee. At that point, the Rules Committee will strip out all of the language in the phantom bill, and insert the changes to the Senate bill that Democrats have negotiated.
"They don't have the votes right now, but they're creating the vehicle so that they can airdrop in whatever changes they want," Ryan said.
He said that Republicans are outnumbered 2-to-1 on his committee and don't have the votes to stop the bill there. Democrats will also be able to prevent Republicans from offering any amendments, but GOP members will be able to offer "motions to instruct" the Rules Committee, that Ryan said will be used highlight problems with the "unprecedented" step that Democrats are taking.
He said he expected Democrats to dust off last year's health care bills from the Education and Labor and Ways and Means Committees, to use as the vehicle for reconciliation changes.
Ryan said that the Senate parliamentarian's ruling that President Obama must sign a health care bill into law before the Senate can change it through reconciliation largely renders moot the attempt by Rep. Louise Slaughter to shield members from a direct vote on the Senate health care bill. He said the idea would also violate Obama's call for an up-or-down vote. "That's not an up-or-down vote, that's sweeping it under the rug and into law," Ryan said.
Welcome to the Obama era, baby. PICK. UP. THE. PHONE. Tell your Rep what you think of this madness.
There's my two cents.