Saturday, October 24, 2015

Pete Sessions Show Vote on Reconciliation Bill H.R. 3762


The Reconciliation Bill has been nothing more than a smoke and mirrors effort to prop up squishy Republicans during this election season.  Sessions and the House members know full well Obama will veto anything that comes across his desk with language to defund Obamacare or Planned Parenthood.  So reconciliation was happily passed by the House on Friday, all so they can dust off their hands, and go home to tell their constituents in Town Hall meetings just how hard they tried to defund Obamacare and Planned Parenthood.  Meanwhile, Obama vetoes it, but that's not their fault then, is it? Well actually it is.

Last Spring, in the budget blueprint, the House set instructions for the Senate to consider a full repeal of Obamacare. This was done to set a benchmark for future repeal efforts, and also to be used as a “dry run”. Now, the narrative of reconciliation was changed to only partial repeal instead, and when further efforts to push for a full defunding of Obamacare came forth, House Rules Chair Pete, Sessions closed the bill. Pete Sessions frantically attempted to get this Reconciliation Bill passed as quickly as he could because he is not serious about a complete repeal of Obamacare. He is on record for making statements in the past saying that it can't be defunded and by the way why would we want to?

This Reconciliation Bill leaves the main pillars of Obamacare in place.  It only goes after 17 out of 400+ provisions, and leaves the new insurance rules in place along with provisions of Medicaid expansion, exchange subsidies, tax increases, and Medicare cuts which all qualify for reconciliation.

It is generally recognized that Obamacare will be much easier to repeal all at once, particularly because of its unpopularity when taken as a whole, and reconciliation now threatens full repeal thanks to splitting up the defunding effort.

Plus the provision for Planned Parenthood is merely a “show vote” to mask the fact there was no real fight for defunding Planned Parenthood in the last CR, which is actually the better vehicle for defunding Planned Parenthood than trying to do it through reconciliation.

In fact, with the Planned Parenthood provision, it runs the risk of not passing the Senate either since we have seen Republican senators vote against defunding it in recent weeks.  Even Senators Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio issued a joint statement that they will not support any bill from the house that does not include full Obamacare repeal language. This is an underwhelming “defunding” effort by the House, to say the least.

By settling for a partial repeal, the Reconciliation Bill closed the door on resolving key procedural fights, and lowers the bar for our future GOP Congress and President to follow. With all due respect, this was a checkers strategy in a chess game. 

So my question is, why did Pete Sessions and the House not use this reconciliation to make sure that any procedural hurdles to fully defund Obamacare were corrected, so it can become a reality in 2017 when we get a Republican president in the White House?

The answer from Pete Sessions was to pass the buck onto the Senate and their 60 vote rule.  The fact is, Sessions is taking the stance that the Senate has fully adjudicated full repeal, except they haven't. And any effort by the House to pass a less robust bill is futile.  They should pass a full repeal bill and let the Senate work out the Byrd rule.  Sessions skirted over my question about using reconciliation as a trial run.  Rather, he focused on how important it is to pass something that will never be signed into law. And he agreed with me when I stated that the Senate will never pass this bill with the Planned Parenthood language.  The House needed to focus on a bill that fully repeals Obamacare instead of worrying about having 51 votes to gut Obamacare which results in a veto just so they can point fingers.In reality, reconciliation didn't gut Obamacare, House members gutted their promise to their constituents to fully defund Obamacare.

The tragic reality is that Obamacare will never be fully repealed as long as squishy House Republicans like Pete Sessions are allowed to remain in office.