Updated 4:54 p.m. | GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz signaled the Senate parliamentarian should be ousted or ignored if a full repeal of Obamacare is deemed to violate budget rules.
The budget reconciliation rules allow legislation through the Senate without the customary filibuster threats and need for 60 votes, but impose severe restrictions on content not related to budgeting, under a rule named for former Sen. Robert C. Byrd. “At the end of the day, the Senate parliamentarian is an employee of the Senate. Virtually every Republican campaigned promising full repeal,” Cruz said Thursday. “And a great many promised explicitly full repeal on reconciliation, and we should do exactly what we said we would do.”
The Republican senator from Texas was asked what the inability to get a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act through the reconciliation process showed about party leaders at the Capitol.
“It shows that Republican leadership has been insufficiently dedicated to honoring the promises we made to the men and women who elected us,” Cruz said.
Cruz made his comments as the House was preparing to consider a reconciliation bill.
In reality, Senate Republicans could not easily disregard an opinion by the parliamentarian that is favorable to Obamacare.
That’s because the procedural rulings are actually made by the Senate’s presiding officer. While customarily it is a Republican in the chair, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is the president of the Senate. Biden thus could come to the Senate chamber when the reconciliation bill reaches the floor and make the procedural calls.
Majority Whip John Cornyn said he wasn’t aware of a formal report from the parliamentarian yet about potential Byrd rule violations, but he was dismissive of the idea of firing the budget umpire.
“That strikes me like firing the judge if you disagree with his ruling,” said Cornyn, Cruz’s fellow Texas Republican.
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