Unable to mount a filibuster on their own and calculating that Democrats are on track to send a health care bill to Obama by year’s end, Senate Republicans figure the only way to stop or reshape the measure is to give the public enough time to figure out what’s in it and what they don’t like about it.
Doing that is going to take some time, and the process of amending bills during a floor debate — which can include demanding a 60-vote threshold for all amendments — could provide the minority ample opportunity to slow things down. Republicans could also benefit from some built-in delays, including the fact that Democratic leaders have said they’d like to wait for a Congressional Budget Office cost estimate on the bill before beginning debate…
Obama has said he will not sign a health care bill that costs more than $1 trillion over 10 years and adds to the federal deficit. But even if the final Senate bill meets these requirements, as the $829 billion Finance package does, Republicans are prepared to pounce. The final measure will be some combination of the Finance package and competing legislation approved by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
The GOP will argue that no bill that relies on tax or fee increases can be considered deficit-neutral. Additionally, they will push to enlist the opposition of the all-important seniors vote — seniors are reliable voters, particularly in midterm election years — by continuing to flog the Medicare cuts that Republicans believe will be a part of any final bill.