Cruz vs Obamacare in the Senate

Now that the House has passed a resolution to defund Obamacare, everyone is pointing at Ted Cruz in the Senate and asking him how he can possibly expect the Senate to pass it without adding Obamacare funding back in. Some are even going to far as to call it stupid.

Without going into too much detail, it's pretty obvious how this process works. I will attempt to explain below.

First, the Constitution indicates that all legislation related to the power of the purse (spending, taxation) must originate in the House. That means the whole process has to start there. The Republicans control the House; they pass a continuing resolution (since the Senate refuses to pass a budget) that does not include Obamacare funding.

Second, the Senate considers the continuing resolution. They have two choices; they can pass it without changes and send it to the President, or make changes and send it to a joint reconciliation committee, which will produce a final version of the legislation that both House and Senate must then hold another vote on. Obviously, the Senate isn't going to just pass the legislation up to the President without Obamacare funding, so it will make changes to add that funding back in, and send it to committee.

Third, the committee either replaces Obamacare funding, or leaves it out. If they leave it out, and both House and Senate approve the result, it goes to the President and Cruz wins. Realistically, however, the Senate won't approve the CR without Obamacare funding and the House is known to have weak knees, so it probably gets added back in in the reconciliation committee.

Now it gets tricky. Does the House approve the reconciled bill with Obamacare funding? If so, Obama wins and Cruz loses. But the House can reject the reconciled legislation. This way lies a government shutdown.

What happens in a government shutdown? Government spending is cut dramatically. If you stand for deficit reduction and fiscal sanity, this is a win-win situation. All the essential stuff keeps going -- including Medicare and Social Security payments, for those living on entitlements who are terrified of not getting their checks on time. But a whole bunch of stuff gets cut while the government is shut down, and really, this is a good thing. I figure we could live with a continuous government shutdown without noticing or caring for a good long time.

Whenever the House gets bored of this, it can pass another continuing resolution without Obamacare funding and send it to the Senate. The CR can be completely identical to the first one. Hell, it can cut even more spending. Remember, all taxation and spending legislation must originate in the House. And when the Democrats whine and moan about the Republicans shutting down the government, all the Republicans have to do is point to the CR they sent to the Senate -- without Obamacare funding -- and say "The ball is in your court, sucker." The same applies when the Senate passes a CR without Obamacare funding and the President vetos it. The Senate can modify and the President can veto all they wish to; only the House can originate a spending bill.

A House with sufficient backbone can force the Senate and the President to accept whatever they put into their budget, simply by refusing to consider amendments or reconciled bills and allowing the government to shut down.

I doubt the current House leadership has the intestinal fortitude to play that kind of hardball, but pretending that Cruz has to somehow get the CR through the Senate without Obamacare funding is not correct. The Senate will cave and pass whatever the House sends it eventually. The President will cave and sign whatever he is sent eventually. The House can rule this game. All it needs is a spine.

Unfortunately, that's what Boehner lacks. Let's hope he finds it before the Senate figures out what to do.

This entry was published Fri Sep 20 12:57:13 CDT 2013 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2013-09-20 12:57:13.0. [Tweet]

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