Sen. Alexander (R-TN) is laying out the Republican line right now, insisting that for today’s Health Care Summit to be a real exercise, President Obama has to agree not to pass any bill in the Senate with a majority vote. A lot of this is just nonsense about the filibuster. But there’s a key issue here that the Senate Republicans are simply being dishonest about. And I fear most of the reporters down in on the scene are going to fall for it. The argument Alexander is making is that the Democrats back in 2005 stood against what the Democrats are trying to do now to pass Health Care Reform. This is simply false. And he knows it.
Back in 2005, the Republicans threatened to abolish the filibuster to allow votes on judicial nominees. There are lots of Democrats who would like that to happen right now. But it’s not. The Democrats are proposing to use the existing senate rules that disallow filibusters on bills with certain tightly-defined kinds of budgetary impact. These aren’t kind of like the same thing. They’re completely different.
Not only are these totally standard rules of the senate. But they’re ones that Republicans themselves repeatedly used during their majority years earlier in the decade. Indeed, the Democrats are still hamstringing themselves to a great degree since the “reconciliation” process only disallows filibusters for very specific kinds of legislation.
Sen. Alexander can say whatever he wants. They need an argument. And they’re about out of them. But this one is so vacant and baseless that I’d hate to see reporters falling for it. If you see that happening, please send me examples at our comments email address.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.