If Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) gets his way, the dilatory tactics that have marked the early days of the Senate health care debate will grow more and more severe.
“We, the minority party, must use the tools we have under Senate rules to insist on a full, complete and fully informed debate on the health care legislation – as well as all legislation – coming before the Senate,” Gregg wrote in a letter to Republican colleagues yesterday. “As laid out in the attached document, we have certain rights before measures are considered on the floor as well as certain rights during the actual consideration of measures. Every Republican senator should be familiar with the scope of these rights, which serve to protect our ability to speak on behalf of the millions of Americans who depend on us to be their voice during this historic debate.”
Gregg says Republicans should be prepared to filibuster every motion, “with the exception of Conference Reports and Budget Resolutions, most such motions are fully debatable and 60 votes for cloture is needed to cut off extended debate.”
And Republicans, he says, should be prepared to gum up even the most standard operating procedures in the Senate. “[The] Senate operates on a presumptive quorum of 51 senators and quorum calls are routinely dispensed with by unanimous consent. If UC is not granted to dispose of a routine quorum call, then the roll must continue to be called. If a quorum is not present, the only motions the leadership may make are to adjourn, to recess under a previous order, or time-consuming motions to establish a quorum that include requesting, requiring, and then arresting Senators to compel their presence in the Senate chamber.”
Most of the steps Gregg suggests his colleagues take don’t serve any substantive purpose at all, but simply cause the debate proceedings to grind to a halt. As if this debate was proceeding at lightning speed. And this was nearly President Obama’s Commerce Secretary! Democrats, for their part, are saying they’ll happily take the debate through Christmas if this sort of behavior persists.
You can read the entire letter, and procedural document, here.