Senate conservatives have chosen the vote they will fight Obamacare on, and moderate Senate Republicans aren't happy about it.
Procedural power play
Despite popular perception, not every motion in the Senate requires a 60-vote total for passage. In fact most, unless a change in rules has been agreed to ahead of time, only require a bare 51-vote majority. So when Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., introduces an amendment to the House continuing resolution later this week that will fully fund Obamacare through December, only 51 votes will be needed. And since Democrats have 54 seats in the Senate, they are guaranteed to get those 51 votes.
But, before he can get to amendments, Reid must first pass two 60-vote thresholds: one vote to begin debate on the House CR, and another vote to end debate. It is that second vote, to end debate that conservatives have chosen fight on.
"If Reid pursues this plan -- if he insists on using a 50-vote threshold to fund Obamacare with a partisan vote of only Democrats -- then I hope that every Senate Republican will stand together and oppose cloture on the bill in order to keep the House bill intact and not let Harry Reid add Obamacare funding back in," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told reporters Friday.
This is what has moderate Republican senators upset. Back in March, every Republican senator voted with Cruz for an amendment to a defense appropriations bill that would have defunded Obamacare just as the House CR does. If every Republican voted with Cruz against cloture on the House CR, then Republicans could block Reid's amendment.
But moderate Republicans do not want to do this. They believe that if they vote to block ending debate on the House CR, then they will be blamed for a government shutdown.
So the question is, which moderate Republicans will cross the aisle and vote with Democrats to allow Reid to proceed to his amendment that adds Obamacare funding back to the CR?
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