The move comes after several contentious days of fighting over the GOP leadership’s priorities.
Conservatives in the U.S. Senate are gearing up to challenge Republican leadership today, setting their sights on a plan to repeal Obamacare with 51 votes—a measure that will easily pass if the 54 GOP senators support it.
The move comes after several contentious days of fighting over the GOP leadership’s priorities. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., allowed a vote Sunday to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank despite his stated opposition. It passed, 67-26, but drew a sharp rebuke from conservatives.
“The American people elected a Republican majority believing that a Republican majority would be somehow different from a Democratic majority in the United States Senate,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said. “Unfortunately, the way the current Senate operates, there is one party, the Washington party.”
Cruz accused McConnell of lying in a fiery floor speech Friday, then Sunday linked him with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for denying conservatives the opportunity to vote on amendments to defund Planned Parenthood and require Iran to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
“To the millions of Americans who rallied in November believing if only we got a Republican majority in the Senate, something would be different,” Cruz added, “this was a clarifying and a sad moment.”
Despite the setback Sunday, conservatives are vowing to press their case again Monday.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, announced he would push for a vote to repeal Obamacare with a 51-vote threshold.
The Senate voted 49-43 Sunday to defeat an amendment to repeal Obamacare. Because it required 60 votes, Republicans were unable to overcome the hurdle. The 49 votes in favor of the plan were all Republicans; five GOP senators didn’t vote.
“Republicans will have the opportunity resurrect that Obamacare amendment later on in the process,” Lee said, “and put it back before the Senate in a manner that only requires a simple-majority vote.”
Lee plans to do exactly that today using Senate rules to force a vote that requires a simple majority. Lee believes that his amendment should be ruled “germane” and require 51 votes because, even though the Senate is debating a highway bill, the underlying legislation is H.R. 22, which would partially repeal Obamacare.
Republicans signaled Sunday they might not go along with the plan. That would stymie Lee, who needs 51 of his GOP colleagues to support the move.
Lee and Cruz couldn’t even get close to that Sunday on their Planned Parenthood and Iran amendments. Both were denied a roll call vote, a maneuver Senate experts said was highly unusual.
Cruz called it an “unprecedented” plot by McConnell and Reid.