Senate Passes Reconciliation Bill 52-47, Parts Of Obamacare, Planned Parenthood Gutted

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Dec 03, 2015 4:00 PM
Senate Passes Reconciliation Bill 52-47, Parts Of Obamacare, Planned Parenthood Gutted

UPDATE: Bill passes by a 52-47 vote.

After hours of votes on amendments related to gun rights (and gun control), not a single one was attached to the House reconciliation bill that’s being considered in the Senate. The Senate voted to torpedo large portions of the president’s signature health care law, along with defunding Planned Parenthood for a year by a 52-47 vote. Moderate Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Mark Kirk of Maine and Illinois, respectively, seem to be the 'no' votes, according to Fox News’ Chad Pergram. The GOP could only risk three defections on a bill that required a simple majority to pass.

Sens. Rubio, Cruz, and Graham all voted in the affirmative for the bill. It now goes back to the House since the Senate bill is different.

UPDATE II: Senate easily passed a $305 billion, five-year transportation bill that also renews the Export-Import Bank (via Politico):

The Senate passed the biggest transportation infrastructure bill in a decade Thursday, sending to the White House a $305 billion five-year package that keeps federal money flowing to highway, transit and rail projects — and reopens the controversial Export-Import Bank.

After years of public pleas from the construction industry, a forceful lobbying blitz backed by Big Business and labor groups, and billions of dollars in bailouts, the Senate easily passed the bipartisan bill on a 83-16 vote just hours after the House approved the measure.

The 1,300-page bill was nearly a decade in the making, and the White House has said President Barack Obama was ready to sign it — and not a moment too soon, since the authority that allows the Department of Transportation to cut checks for highway and transit projects expires Friday.

***Original Post***

The Senate seems poised to pass a bill that will gut parts of Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood for a year. President Obama will most certainly veto this legislation, making this possible legislative victory a symbolic gesture. But it would represent some progress in Republican efforts to repeal the presidents’ signature domestic achievement, which has been marred by failure. Just as Democrats used the process of reconciliation to pass Obamacare back in 2010, Republicans alluded to using it during their winter meeting in Hershey, Pennsylvania in January.

After months of wrangling over deadlines for the reconciliation process, the Senate agreed to start the process in concert with a previous budget resolution that was passed earlier this year that stipulated House and Senate committees finding $1 billion in savings. As many of you probably already know, the budget reconciliation process is an immensely powerful legislative tool, as it cuts down on debate and only requires simple majorities in both chambers to pass (via National Journal [7/28/15]):

The rules of reconciliation allow it to be used on a bill that covers a wide variety of subjects, as long as they fall in­to the jurisdiction of certain committees. The rules do not require the bill to do only one thing, although GOP leadership is very clear that repealing Obamacare is its primary objective. (The tool allows a bill to pass through the Senate with only 51 votes instead of the 60 needed to break a filibuster.)

Yet, for some conservatives, like Sens. Lee (R-UT), Cruz (R-TX), and Rubio (R-FL), the bill doesn’t go far enough, though there doesn’t seem like there’s much they can do about it. A full repeal is out of the question in this process since it’s relegated to parts of Obamacare that directly impact fiscal policy. As Guy wrote in October, “a House Ways and Means Committee spokesman tells Townhall the legislation that is slated to be voted on this week, and against which Heritage Action is lobbying, represents "the best way to repeal the worst parts of the law. The constraints of reconciliation prohibit a repeal of the entire law." In the end, the bill moved forward as planned in the House, passing 240-189.

Right now, the Senate session is undergoing a “vote-a-rama,” which began about two hours ago. Senate Democrats plan to attach gun control amendments to the bill. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said some members of his caucus are dreading these votes. At the same time, The Hill reports that Republicans can only afford three defections, with Sens. Collins and Cruz being mum on how they're going to vote. It's also unknown how Sens. Rubio and Paul will vote.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced an amendment that would prevent the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Sen. Steve Lankford (R-OK) then urged his Senate colleagues to reject the amendment. It was eventually defeated.