After the House of Representatives easily passed a continuing resolution that strips Obamacare of all funding on Friday, the bill now heads to the U.S. Senate where Democrats are eager to restore the flow of dollars to President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.
However, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) may have one more trick up his sleeve.
The Texas Republican is calling for “unity” within the GOP and asking senators to oppose limiting debate on the bill, preventing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from using “procedural gimmicks” to add Obamacare funding back in. In other words, filibuster the continuing resolution.
“Step two is the Senate, where all accounts suggest Harry Reid plans to use procedural gimmicks to try to add funding back in for Obamacare,” Cruz said in a statement on Friday. “If Reid pursues this plan — if he insists on using a 50-vote threshold to fund Obamacare with a partisan vote of only Democrats — then I hope that every Senate Republican will stand together and oppose cloture on the bill in order to keep the House bill intact and not let Harry Reid add Obamacare funding back in.”
Cruz challenged Senate Republicans to “stand side-by-side with courageous House Republicans.”
“Now is a time for party unity,” he said.
“The fight to save America from Obamacare is just beginning — it may well go back and forth from the House and Senate several times — and a united Republican front means that Harry Reid and the President cannot ignore the American people,” Cruz added.
More from Roll Call:
The statement underscores the unwinnable procedural hand faced by conservative senators, however. They know that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will move to strike out the Obamacare defunding language after getting the 60 votes needed to limit debate, but they can’t stop him without effectively endorsing a government shutdown.
The Nevada Democrat’s move is completely in keeping with long-standing Senate rules. Pending germane amendments and motions, such as a motion to strike, are allowed simple-majority votes after debate’s been limited.
“Republicans are simply postponing for a few days the inevitable choice they must face: pass a clean bill to fund the government, or force a shutdown. I have said it before but it seems to bear repeating: The Senate will not pass any bill that defunds or delays Obamacare,” Reid said in a Friday statement.
However, Cruz’s plan is not one without risks.
By asking Republicans to literally filibuster the bill, Cruz is also asking his fellow senators to risk a potential government shutdown in the process. Like in a game of “chicken,” if no one blinks, no one wins — and Sen. Reid has shown absolutely no willingness to compromise on Obamacare funding.
Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins called directly on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to get the 41 votes required to defeat cloture on “Harry Reid’s plan to fund Obamacare.”
“Republicans like to say they are against Obamacare, but now is the time to prove it. Now is when it matters,” he said in a statement.
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