GOP leaders of both Houses spoke to the press on Wednesday to discuss details regarding the Thursday health care summit at Washington, D.C.’s, Blair House with Democrat leaders and President Obama. The GOP is already calling the summit useless, going as far as calling it a “Sham-Wow” TV commercial, as one GOP member put it.
With the threat of reconciliation looming from the Democrats, a parliamentary procedure reserved for passing spending and tax legislation in the Senate, and the bill’s ability to pass with only 50 votes (plus the VP’s vote) without debate, Republicans are fighting back. They are reminding everyone that Democrat Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia not only authored the reconciliation rule but also objected to it being used to pass health care legislation, according to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
When asked what he thought of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D - NV) remark about GOP’ers “crying about reconciliation,” Mr. McConnell of Kentucky told The Washington Times on Wednesday:
“Reconciliation has never been used to doanything as massive as restructuring 1/6 of our economy. The notion that they’re promoting that this is somehow routine is simply not the case. The man that wrote the budget reconciliation law is Robert Byrd,” he said.
“The man who wrote the Byrd rule is Robert Byrd. He said so as recently in the last twelve months that it should not be used for health care … the author of the budget language … the author of the Byrd rule.On the heels of the corn husker kick back and the Louisiana Purchase…the special deal for Florida, writing this behind closed doors, for them to step in and use this little-used parliamentary device never intended to do something of this magnitude to restructure 1/6 of the economy.”
Due to his frail health and advanced age (at 92, he is the oldest serving U.S. Senator), Mr. Byrd rarely visits the Senate chamber and is only seen during key votes on the floor. Politicians have a tough time getting their opposition to be vocally consistent on positions taken in the past. With Mr. Byrd’s already seldom appearances on Capitol Hill, the GOP may not necessarily have loud support from the author of the reconciliation budget rule.