Thursday, December 3, 2009

GOP Plan for Healthcare

The Republicans have come up with a plan to deal with the healthcare bill in the Senate.

Sen. Judd Gregg, (R-NH) has penned the equivalent of an obstruction manual — a how-to for holding up health care reform — and has distributed the document to his Republican colleagues.

Insisting that it is “critical that Republican senators have a solid understanding of the minority’s rights in the Senate,” Gregg makes note of all the procedural tools the GOP can use before measures are considered, when they come to the floor and even after passage.

He highlights the use of “hard quorum calls for any motion to proceed, as opposed to a far quicker unanimous consent provision. He reminds his colleagues that, absent unanimous consent, they can force the Majority Leader to read any “full-text substitute amendment.” And when it comes to offering amendments to the health care bill, the New Hampshire Republican argues that it is the personification of “full, complete, and informed debate,” to “offer an unlimited number of amendments — germane or non-germane — on any subject.”

The details of Gregg’s outline are a clear reflection of the extent to which Republicans are turning to the Byzantine processes of the Senate chamber as a means of holding up reform. And doing so with eagerness.

As Steve Benen observes, if the Republicans spent as much time and energy actually coming up with solutions or even a credible alternative to the Democrats’ bill, we might actually have a real Congress. Instead, we have a bunch of grown men and women acting out like vengeful middle-schoolers… with apologies to all you smart and mature 12-year-olds out there.

Frankly, it would be altogether more refreshing if Sen. Gregg and the rest of the GOP leadership came onto the floor of the Senate and said with all the candor they can muster, “We have nothing to offer, but we also realize that if the United States Senate actually passes comprehensive healthcare, we’re screwed, so we’re going to stand here and do everything we possibly can to obstruct it because that’s all we’ve got,” they might at least get props for that bit of honesty. But they can’t even come up with that.