John McCain Wants to Stop Democrats’ Possible Health Care Reconciliation Move

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 28, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

John McCain Wants to Stop Democrats’ Possible Health Care Reconciliation Move

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 28
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Senator John McCain is hoping to bring back as many elements of the Gang of 14 as possible to stop a move by Senate Democrats to use a procedural process to railroad through the health care bill that contains taxpayer-funding for abortions and rationing.

The Gang of 14 was a bipartisan group of lawmakers who blocked efforts to filibuster votes on President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees.

McCain says a similar bipartisan group of elected officials is needed to stop Senate Democrats from using the reconciliation process, meant for important budget items, to stop Republicans from exercising their right to filibuster the pro-abortion government-run health care plan.

Senate leader Harry Reid has repeatedly mentioned reconciliation as a potential method to use in passing the bill since no Republicans have declared their support for it and some moderate Democrats may vote as well.

As a result, Reid would not have the 60 votes needed to end the filibuster and allow a vote.

Last night, McCain told Fox News host Sean Hannity that the 60-vote principle is important for the Senate and that he will fight the reconciliation strategy on health care on those grounds.

"I think it destroys, in many respects, the unique aspects of the institution in the Senate which is the 60-vote principle," McCain said.

"You may recall that I fought hard for that principle in the nomination and confirmation of judges in the United States Senate. I was criticized by some at that time," he added.

"But the fact is that if they go this way in the so-called, quote, ‘reconciliation,’ I think that you will see a backlash in the United States Senate and across this country. The institution of the Senate works on the 60-vote basis in many occasions," McCain continued.

McCain would undoubtedly have the support of Republicans to stop reconciliation and likely at least one Democrat.

Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who was the Democratic co-chair of the Gang of 14 and is the only consistent pro-life Democrat in the Senate, said at a town hall meeting this month he won’t support a reconciliation strategy.

However, to stop reconciliation, which allows Reid to get just 50 party-line votes to railroad the health care bill, or the controversial parts of it, through the Senate, Republicans would need more than Nelson. They would need a handful of additional Democrats to vote no based on either their opposition to the bill or to the use of reconciliation to bypass normal Senate procedures.

Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii, and Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, now an independent, are the other members of the Gang of 14.

Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia was also a member but is now ill and doesn’t vote regularly.

They may also find help from Democrats like Kent Conrad of North Dakota, who has said that reconciliation is “an option, but it’s not a very good one” and could fight Reid’s attempt to use it.

Poll data shows little support for using reconciliation, even among Democrats.

A Rasmussen poll released yesterday shows that, if Democrats agree on a health care reform bill that is opposed by all Republicans in Congress, just 24% of voters nationwide say the Democrats should pass that bill.

Another 58% believe the Democrats should change the bill to win support from "a reasonable number of Republicans."

Republican voters overwhelmingly think the bill should be changed, and so do 62% of those not affiliated with either major political party.

While 41 percent of Democrats believe their legislators should pass the bill without any GOP votes, 34% disagree and think the legislation should be changed to attract Republican support.

Some 55 percent of moderates say a bipartisan effort is needed while 52 percent of liberals want Senate Democrats to railroad the bill.

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