With the government-funding bill headed to the Senate following tomorrow’s House vote, the expectation among Senate Republicans is that Democratic majority leader Harry Reid will be able to strip its provision defunding Obamacare with only a majority vote.
Reid would rely on an arcane Senate procedure called the “motion to strike” that allows him to amend the bill with a bare majority after cloture has been invoked to shut down debate on the bill.
In other words, Reid would invoke cloture with the bill still intact — meaning Republicans, who support defunding Obamacare, would vote for cloture. After cloture had been invoked, Reid could then move remove the language defunding Obamacare with only a bare majority.
The strategy would put Democrats in something of an odd position because they would be voting for cloture on a bill that defunds Obamacare. But given Republicans will vote for cloture, and that it’s according to Reid’s plan, that’s unlikely to be reason enough that the necessary votes wouldn’t be there.
Senator Ted Cruz told reporters earlier today that he and Senator Mike Lee “will use every procedural means available to fight for the American people to defund Obamacare.”
One theoretical option is to filibuster the CR because of the expectation that Reid will be moving to strip the language defunding Obamacare from it. But that would likely be counterproductive, since it would produce headlines about how Cruz and other Republicans are filibustering their own bill. Besides, several GOP senators, including Bob Corker and John Cornyn, told reporters today they would vote to invoke cloture.
Cruz himself suggested the fight will last beyond the Senate’s consideration of the House bill.
“This fight may be an extended back and forth. It is entirely possible that multiple versions of the continuing resolution will go back and forth between the House and Senate. If that happens, you can rest assured that Mike Lee and I, and a great many others, will fight with every ounce of breath we have to defund Obamacare,” he said.