Following up on our Hatch interview, here is a sharp Roll Call article about the process moving forward:
Senate Democrats and Republicans are poised to have a knock-down, drag-out fight over the arcane budget reconciliation process and equally esoteric rules as Congress races to pass a health care bill before Easter.
Policy disagreements have become almost an afterthought as Republicans charge Democrats with twisting Senate rules to pass what they say is an unpopular bill while Democrats say the GOP’s “obstructionism” and hypocrisy have reached new heights.
“The whole process is destroying the way the Senate is supposed to function,” Budget ranking member Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said Monday. Gregg has been spearheading the GOP’s planning on how to trip up the Senate bill by using obscure “Byrd rule” budget points of order and crafting politically treacherous amendments.
Gregg and his fellow Republicans have even begun attempting to instill fear and mistrust among House Democrats by indicating that the Senate minority’s ability to trip up the reconciliation measure could prevent the chamber from passing the crucial piece of the House-Senate health care deal.
Meanwhile, Democrats have been seriously considering trying to break a de facto GOP filibuster by calling in Vice President Joseph Biden, who serves as President of the Senate, to rule scores of GOP amendments out of order if it becomes clear they are being offered to delay the process.