Conservatives seeking to repeal Obamacare through a simple act of budgetary reconciliation received bad news from Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, who responded to questions on whether the law could be stopped through a "root and branch" approach, The Hill reported
Even as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested such reconciliation without using a typical 60-vote threshold could be used to kill the divisive healthcare law, MacDonough has "raised red flags" over the plan, GOP sources told The Hill. The threshold rule is used on issues of spending and revenue.
MacDonough's interpretation of the tactic as the Senate's "chief referee" is subject to scrutiny as some Republicans suggest a way to end Obamacare is by using a 51-vote majority to pass a one-sentence provision, The Hill said.
McConnell has been urged to use budget reconciliation by several conservatives and their organizations, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as well as some tea party groups, according to The Hill
Without that clear path, lawmakers would have to dismantle, discuss and vote on a piecemeal repeal, a time-consuming strategy that would prove to be difficult as Democrats would likely stage a filibuster over stand-alone legislation.
Still, Dan Holler, a spokesman for the conservative organization Heritage Action for America told The Hill he believes reconciliation could work.
"We think from what we've heard there's a really credible case to be made that the one-sentence repeal instruction for reconciliation passes all the tests," he told The Hill. "From our vantage point, we think there are credible arguments that you can get all of Obamacare [repealed] through reconciliation and that's where the focus of lawmakers should be as the budget comes up and as instructions are written."
Others say the budget reconciliation tactic is doomed.
"Even if Congress adopts a budget resolution conference with reconciliation instructions to make changes in Obamacare, there's hardly a guarantee that the specific changes proposed by the House will be acceptable to the Senate and vice versa," wrote Forbes contributor Stan Collender
"The same ideological and political differences between House and Senate Republicans that will make it difficult for a budget resolution to be adopted could make it virtually impossible to reach an agreement on the actual changes in the law."
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