GOP Playbook Highlights Senate Procedural Tactics
A memo (.pdf) circulated by Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., spells out the arsenal of parliamentary maneuvers available to Republicans as they seek to stall the Senate's health debate, The New York Times reports on its Prescriptions blog. Gregg has a reputation as one of the GOP's "foremost experts on legislative war games." Gregg also has drawn up a GOP battle plan for use "in the event that Democrats tried to fast-track the health care legislation" by using budget reconciliation, which allows for legislation to pass with a simple majority. But the Times notes, "So far, Democrats have said they hope to pass the bill under regular procedures, with full debate. And that means Republicans will have a hefty arsenal by which they can try to slow down debate and force the majority leader, Harry Reid, to miss his goal of completing the bill by Christmas" (Herszenhorn, 12/2).
Politico: The memo highlights 15 procedural tactics such as "demanding a new legislative day and 'hard' quorum calls" that Republicans can enlist. A quorum call, when a minimum number of senators aren't present, limits the majority party's options to adjourning or recessing sessions, or embarking on what Gregg calls "time-consuming motions to compel" a quorum of other senators to appear in the chamber. Gregg wrote, "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"(Smith, 12/2).