Did Republicans win a “briar patch” battle with Nancy Pelosi?

posted at 2:50 pm on June 19, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Help me out here.  I’ve been reading this report from ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf since last night, and I’m not sure exactly how Nancy Pelosi thinks she has found some new leverage against Senate Republicans.  In fact, as I read this, the Senate GOP has been handed a shadow filibuster by the House Speaker in what has to be one of the oddest and unprompted briar-patch strategies I’ve ever seen on Capitol Hill:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi struck a combative tone tonight, rejecting the Medicare “doc fix” passed hastily through the Senate Friday until Senate Republicans allow a vote on jobs measures that have passed through the House.

“I see no reason to pass this inadequate bill until we see jobs legislation coming out of the Senate,” said Pelosi in a statement.  “House Democrats are saying to Republicans in the Senate: Show us the jobs! (exclamation mark hers)”

Her statement, along with Senate Republicans’ unwillingness to pass any legislation that adds to the debt, means that Medicare doctors can expect a 21 percent pay cut when claims that have been held for two weeks start to be processed by Medicare’s government administrator on Monday. Senate Democrats could not muster 60 votes twice this week when they considered bills more to Pelosi’s liking. They passed the last-minute doc fix bill to avert the 21 percent pay cut to Medicare doctors on Friday afternoon, even as the pay cut was scheduled to take effect.

Pelosi struck a “combative tone” by refusing to act on a bill that, er, rescues Democrats from their heretofore unfulfilled payoff to the AMA in exchange for their support on ObamaCare.  Republicans didn’t need to pass a “doc fix” after the passage of the ObamaCare legislation whose financials were specifically predicated on keeping the Medicare reimbursement cuts in place.  The “doc fix” pulls Democratic chestnuts out of the fire, not Republican commitments.

And for what reason will she hold up the bill?  Pelosi wants Republicans to help pass a “jobs bill” that is almost entirely a bailout of state budgets, one that violates the Pay-Go rules that Pelosi herself demanded this year, and got.  As the midterms approach, even Democrats in both chambers have begun to balk at voting for big-spending bills, hoping that a recent show of frugality will blind voters to almost four years of Democratic profligacy that managed the near-impossible feat of making 2001-6 Republicans look like parsimonious misers in comparison.

In other words, Pelosi has handed the Senate Republicans the key to a filibuster not just in the Senate but also in the House, all to demand a massive expansion of the deficit on two separate fronts.  The GOP couldn’t have possibly asked for a better political position even if they had begged Pelosi not to throw them into that briar patch.  And if the “doctor fix” fails to get out of the House, it won’t be Republicans who get the blame, since Pelosi can call a vote on that any time she desires.

Let’s hope that Republicans manage to keep this advantage for as long as it takes Pelosi to realize that she’s blown it.


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