For those Republicans who support the idea of the inevitability of Obamacare, that is it’s the LAW and shall not be questioned, I would remind them of how it came to be in Congress.
Obamacare passed the Senate on Christmas Eve – December 24, 2009 – in a Senate session arranged in panic and desperation. The vote total was 60 for, 39 against with one not voting. The vote was a straight party line vote with no Democrats voting against and no Republicans voting in favor. Sixty votes were required to achieve cloture (which closed debate and allowed passage with a simple majority) and initiate passage, the key vote being provided by the junior Senator from Massachusetts, Paul Kirk. Kirk was appointed to fill the seat vacated by the deceased Ted Kennedy by Massachusetts’ Democratic governor Deval Patrick – but the process by which the Democrats achieved the 60th vote for cloture on the bill was far from clean and aboveboard. Wikipedia recounts the process:
In August 2009, Senator Ted Kennedy died, leaving a vacancy in the Massachusetts Senate delegation. In 2004 the Massachusetts General Court had withdrawn the authority of the governor to fill a U.S. Senate vacancy by appointment, to prevent the then-Governor Mitt Romney, a Republican, from appointing a Republican to fill the remainder of Democrat John Kerry’s Senate term, if Kerry were to win the 2004 presidential election. The legislation was enacted over Romney’s veto. At that time, Senator Ted Kennedy successfully made personal appeals to Massachusetts Democratic legislative leaders to pass the bill, which had been stalled prior to his request.
The new law called for a special election months later to fill the vacancy. However, Kennedy’s death denied Democrats in the U.S. Senate the 60vote supermajority required to end filibusters. Given the urgency of and narrow partisan support for some legislation before Congress, most notably health care reform, Democratic lawmakers and liberal pundits called for an interim senator to be appointed so that Massachusetts would have full Senate representation until the special election; Kennedy himself had requested such a change before he died. In September, the General Court passed legislation restoring the governor’s power to make interim appointments to serve until the special election stipulated in the earlier legislation is held, over multiple bipartisan concerns of hypocrisy.
Kennedy’s two sons, Patrick J. Kennedy and Edward Kennedy, Jr., and his wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy,
had all expressed their preference for Kirk. Kirk was sworn into office on September 25, 2009. On September 23, 2009, several national media organizations reported that Kirk was favored by the family of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy to be the senator’s interim replacement, and that the family had communicated their preference to Governor Deval Patrick.
Governor Patrick announced Kirk’s appointment the next day. Kirk pledged he would not be a candidate in the special election, which was won by Republican Scott Brown.
On September 24, 2009, members of the Massachusetts Republican Party filed suit seeking to block the appointment of Kirk, saying that under commonwealth law, the law giving Gov. Patrick the right to appoint Kirk should not take effect for 90 days. A hearing was scheduled for the morning of September 25 to resolve the issue. A Suffolk Superior Court judge dismissed the case the same day, and Kirk took the oath of office as Senator that afternoon.
Kirk was sworn in on September 24th, 2009 and was subsequently defeated in the regular election on November 2, 2009 by Republican Scott Brown. Kirk held office for a grand total of 38 days before being defeated in the general election but held his seat until February 2, 2010 – after the new Congress convened – but by that time his usefulness to the partisan passage of Obamacare was over.
I would also single out two more events that assisted in achievement of this dark milestone and those are:
Arlen Specter switched parties from Republican to Democrat when it was apparent that his challenger in the Republican primary would easily defeat him. He switched in April of 2009 but was beaten in the Democratic primaries by Joe Sestak and Sestak was named the Democrat nominee in May of 2010 – but not before casting his vote to support Obamacare.
Comedian Al Franken defeated incumbent Norm Coleman in a highly contested Minnesota Senate election by a total of 312 votes and in a typical Republican defeatist attitude, mounted a weak, conciliatory challenge even in light of suspected voter fraud:
Preliminary reports on election night November 4 had Coleman ahead by over 700 votes; but the official results certified on by November 18, 2008, had Coleman leading by only 215 votes. As the two candidates were separated by less than 0.5 percent, the Secretary of State of Minnesota Mark Ritchie, authorized an automatic recount stipulated in Minnesota election law. In the recount, ballots and certifying materials were examined by hand, and candidates could file challenges to the legality of ballots or materials for inclusion or exclusion with regard to the recount. On January 5, 2009, the Minnesota State Canvassing Board certified the recounted vote totals, with Franken ahead by 225 votes.
On January 6, 2009, Coleman’s campaign filed an election contest, which led to a trial before a three-judge panel. The trial ended on April 7, when the panel ruled that 351 of 387 disputed absentee ballots were incorrectly rejected and ordered them counted. Counting those ballots raised Franken’s lead to 312 votes. Coleman appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court on April 20.
On April 24, the Minnesota Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and oral arguments were conducted on June 1.
On June 30, 2009, the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously rejected Coleman’s appeal and said that Franken was entitled to be certified as the winner. Shortly after the court’s decision, Coleman conceded. Governor Tim Pawlenty signed Franken’s election certificate that same evening.
Both US News and the Wall Street Journal noted in July of 2010 that there was proof that Franken received votes that were cast by ineligible persons, including 341 from convicted felons.
After achieving cloture and passing the modified Senate the bill was returned to the House where it was passed with a 219-212 margin, again with no Republicans voting for it and only 37 Democrats in vulnerable districts being allowed by the House Majority Leader, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, to vote against it. The bill was passed using a process never before used for a bill of this magnitude, the filibuster proof reconciliation process:
…any bill that emerged from conference that differed from the Senate bill would have to be passed in the Senate over another Republican filibuster, most House Democrats agreed to pass the Senate bill on condition that it be amended by a subsequent bill.
They drafted the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, which could be passed via the reconciliation process.
Unlike rules under regular order, as per the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, reconciliation cannot be subject to a filibuster. However, the process is limited to budget changes, which is why the procedure was never able to be used to pass a comprehensive reform bill like the ACA in the first place; such a bill would have inherently non-budgetary regulations.
Whereas the already passed Senate bill could not have been put through reconciliation, most of House Democrats’ demands were budgetary: “these changes—higher subsidy levels, different kinds of taxes to pay for them, nixing the Nebraska Medicaid deal—mainly involve taxes and spending. In other words, they’re exactly the kinds of policies that are well-suited for reconciliation.”
Far from being the unanimously good for America, toast of the town, majority mandated, immaculately conceived program that the Democrats and the Beltway elite project, this atrocity was a back alley abortion brought about by a selfish, cowardly and ultimately unsuccessful party switch by a traitor to his party, a fraudulent Senate election benefiting a comedian who is a joke on all of America, and a sacrificial Senate lamb, appointed specifically for one vote by a Democratic governor after a corrupt state government changed a law enacted to disadvantage his predecessor, Mitt Romney, a Republican.
It also should be noted that the bill that eventually became Obamacare was a modification of bills written by “progressive” Republicans in response to Bill Clinton’s attempt to create Hillarycare and modeled after Romneycare, the socialized approach used in Massachusetts.
This monstrosity is the deformed, brain damaged bastard child of the Democratic Party, the legislative equivalent of Grendel, the misshapen monster of the epic poem, Beowulf. Why any real Republican would demean Ted Cruz or any effort to kill Grendel or Grendel’s mother is beyond me – but given the conciliatory, weak positions that have been taken on incremental issues leading up to its passage, sadly it isn’t really surprising to me.
But the fact remains that Obamacare was a narrowly passed bill. It is not inevitable unless the “progressive” Republicans in the House and Senate want it to be. Beowulf killed both Grendel and his mother and became king…but that sort of thing requires a courage that seems to be lacking in Congress today.