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One of the reasons that Barack Obama won in 2008 was that his opponent, John McCain, wasn’t much of a Republican. Unlike the over-the-top passion the media stirred in uninformed Americans about Obama, McCain didn’t stir passion in anyone, including his base. In the years since 2008, McCain periodically likes to remind us that, when it came to his losing the election, that wasn’t really that big a loss for the American people.
Yesterday, with House Republicans poised to pass a bill that fully funds every part of the federal government but for Obamacare (a bill that passed the House today), McCain announced preemptively that the Senate will never defund Obamacare:
In the United States Senate, we will not repeal, or defund, Obamacare. We will not. And to think we can is not rational. I will again state unequivocally that this is not something that we can succeed in, and that’s defunding Obamacare, because we don’t have 67 Republican votes in the Senate, which would be required to override a presidential veto.
What actually will happen in the Senate is a little more interesting than McCain imagines. Senators Ted Cruz (R., Tex.), whom McCain has called a “wacko bird,” and Mike Lee (R., Utah), are bound and determined to see Obamacare unfunded. To do that, believe it or not, the first thing they’re going to do when the bill hits the Senate is to conduct a filibuster against it. This isn’t as strange as it seems.
When the bill reaches the Senate, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid will put it up to a cloture vote. One would think that Republicans would want it to pass this vote, so that it could come up before the full Senate. However, smart Republicans understand that, if the defunding passes the cloture vote, Reid then has the power to strip it away the bits and pieces that he doesn’t want – such as the part of the bill de-funding Obamacare. If he does that, and submits a “clean” bill to the Senate floor, and the Senate votes “aye” on it, voila!, there’s a Senate budget that funds Obamacare. At that point, it goes back to the House, and the whole thing starts all over again.
So if you see Ted Cruz and Mike Lee urging Republicans to vote “nay” on the cloture vote about sending the House bill to the floor, they’re not wacko birds. They are, instead, wily strategists.
As for McCain, when it comes to birds, McCain’s honorable service to and sacrifice for his country do not change one essential fact: He’ll always be a dodo – a Republican who craves approval from The New York Times and CNN.