Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Wall Street Journal op-ed: ‘Reconciliation’ Could Roll Back Obamacare but Roil Senate, by Daniel J. Hemel (Chicago) & David J. Herzig (Valparaiso):
The effort by the GOP to peel away parts of the Affordable Care Act could also lead to a showdown over how the Senate runs, due to Republicans’ use of a special Senate rule that allows certain legislation to move through with a simple majority, rather than the 60-vote supermajority typically required.
In this rollback push, Republicans are turning to a process called budget reconciliation. Resorting to reconciliation avoids the filibuster, but it will also force Senate Republicans to make difficult decisions in the coming months.
Most significantly, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his caucus may be forced to choose between their antipathy toward the ACA, also known as Obamacare, and their allegiance to longstanding institutional norms. In the end, the scope of ACA repeal will likely depend on whether Senate Republicans decide to score political victories in the short term or to maintain the Senate’s unique culture for the long haul. ...
Senators steeped in institutional culture may be reluctant to violate the longstanding practice of deference to the parliamentarian. They might also fear that if they disregard the parliamentarian, Democrats will do the same the next time they are in power. We may soon learn whether Republicans are willing to upend Senate tradition and risk retaliation down the road in order to bury the Obama administration’s signature legislative achievement.