Durbin Says Senate Will Pass Health Package

Posted March 21, 2010 at 10:46am

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Sunday there will be at least 51 Senate votes for health care reform legislation, but he declined to say when the debate would be finished.

“There is a majority to pass the reconciliation bill,” Durbin said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Durbin refused to commit to finishing the legislation this week, citing the threat of Republican dilatory tactics.

Durbin also noted that he could not predict the outcome of parliamentary rulings on GOP procedural challenges that might throw off the Democrats’ plans.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) vowed on the same program that Republicans will offer “all kinds of amendments on substance” and raise procedural objections to provisions of the legislation that they say are inconsistent with the reconciliation process.

Republicans hope to succeed in amending the reconciliation package, with McConnell noting the result would be the package would “end up going back to the House of Representatives for a second vote,” something Democratic leaders are pulling out all the stops to avoid so that the legislation can go directly to President Barack Obama for his signature after Senate action.

“We owe it to the American people to do the very best we can to keep this bill from passing so we can start over and get it right,” McConnell said.

Durbin said Republicans will be offered ample opportunities to offer substantive amendments, but he hinted that if it becomes apparent that the amendment process has turned into nothing more than a dilatory tactic, Democrats would consider that essentially a filibuster and would move to cut off such tactics because filibusters are not allowed under the reconciliation process.