Budget Resolution: This Too Shall Pass!

Originally posted at Family Research Council.

January 12, 2017

President Obama has been unwilling — and soon, unable — to undo his policy blunders like Obamacare, but Congress is giving his successor a chance to try. In the wee hours of this morning, the Senate took the first step of a journey that Republicans have been on for the last seven years: the repeal of Obamacare and the defunding of Planned Parenthood. For all of the question marks heading into last night’s marathon session, Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) delivered on his biggest promise — to pass a budget resolution that would clear the decks for rolling back Obama’s worst atrocities.

By the slimmest of margins, 51-48, he held together his coalition — which was no small feat after the threats of at least five moderate Republicans earlier in the week. By 1:36 a.m., when members finally walked bleary-eyed to their cars, 180 amendments had been filed (and 20 voted on) in the unique budget free-for-all — which, for all the frenzy, isn’t even legally binding. As it has for years, the Senate uses this crazy process to map out a budget blueprint. The benefit is that, unlike other legislative business, leaders can offer an unlimited number of amendments without worrying about filibusters. That usually means senators will take the opportunity to make a political point — or try to get their colleagues on the record on an issue that they can use to their advantage in campaign ads later on. “Unlike normal legislation, which can be debated for weeks on end, this law limits the total debate time for a budget resolution to 50 hours… This is quite different from the process on a normal bill,” former Senate staffer Keith Hennessey once explained, “where you can offer an amendment but not be assured of a quick vote.”

By the end, the Senate will typically have crammed in a third of their votes for the year into this one chaotic night. While our government affairs team worked late tracking amendments, there were a few surprises. As usual, the president’s party tried to throw a few wrenches into the process, including Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) “women’s health” amendment, which would have stopped the GOP from making any changes to Obamacare that affect the contraception mandate or taxpayer-funded abortion. Fortunately, the Senate deadlocked, killing it by a tie vote (49-49).

Although no one is settled on an official replacement plan for Obamacare, the hows and whens took a backseat to getting this crucial vote out of the way. Knowing that America is also on the path to hollowing out federal tax funding of Planned Parenthood should taste sweet to the millions of voters who streamed into polling places to protect the unborn. The bottom line is the bottom line: Planned Parenthood doesn’t need taxpayer dollars. All the government’s contributions do is enable Cecile Richards’s group to spend more money on politics and candidates who support their radical agenda. This forced partnership must end. And thanks to Senator Mitch McConnell’s leadership, it’s well on its way.

Read more at Family Research Council.


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