Senate Whip Count

by Andrew Stiles

The Senate will vote shortly to end debate on the House-passed continuing resolution that defunds Obamacare. Senators Ted Cruz (R., Texas), Mike Lee (R., Utah), and their allies have sought to make this the all-important vote on Obamacare defunding. If the vote is successful, as it almost certainly will be, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) will propose a measure to strip the defunding language, and pass it with a simple majority of 51 votes. Accordingly, defunders argue that a vote for cloture is effectively a vote to fund Obamacare, a charge that many of their GOP colleagues reject.

Leadership is said to be whipping agressively in favor of cloture. Defunders realize they won’t be able to prevent Reid from amending the bill, but still consider their campaign a success. “We’re going to walk out of this with our heads high,” says a GOP aide close to the effort. ”Anything north of twelve votes is a huge victory for us.” Senate sources say as many as 20 Republicans may vote against cloture, and potentially more if a number of undecideds can be persuaded. Another GOP aide says that the cloture vote “might be closer than we anticipated a couple of days ago,” because of several Senators being “spooked by phone calls” to their offices. Because enough Republicans have already announced their intention to support cloture – only six are required — their colleagues may see little incentive to join them if their votes won’t affect the outcome. Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), for example, recently announced on Twitter: “If votes stay as is, I will vote to defund Obamacare by voting against cloture.”

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