GOP Can Force a Senate Vote on Repeal

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While the health care repeal that the House passed Wednesday has little chance of passage in the Senate, Republicans will probably succeed in eventually forcing a vote on the measure -- albeit with at least a 60-vote threshold.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who controls the Senate floor schedule, has said he will not bring the repeal up. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pledged to force consideration of the bill.


"The Democratic leadership in the Senate doesn't want to vote on this bill. But I assure you, we will," said McConnell in a statement.

Republican aides noted they can force a vote by offering the repeal as an amendment, or by using the Senate's Rule 14 process to bring the bill to the floor, then filing cloture on it. The easiest course for the GOP might be to try to force a vote on the repeal as an amendment to a bill that's likely to pass, such as an appropriations measure. Reid can block amendments to bills, but Republicans could then force a vote on a motion to suspend the rules to take up the amendment. They would need 67 votes to win such a vote. Any other course would require 60 votes. (The conservative Heritage Foundation has more on how Republicans could arrange a vote.)

Though a few Democrats could vote for repeal, Republicans have almost no shot at getting 60 votes. And President Obama would veto the repeal bill if somehow the Senate did pass it.

Reid spokesman Jon Summers on Wednesday characterized McConnell as declaring repeal could pass the Senate. Summers called that "unlikely."


Thumbnail image credit: Getty Images

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Dan Friedman is a staff writer (Senate leadership) for National Journal.

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