Defund fail: A Capitol Hill strategy Colorado’s Frank McNulty can endorse

Right now hard-line Republicans in the U.S. Senate, led by Texan Ted Cruz, and backed by Tea Party groups led by activist blog RedState, are pushing senators to embrace a long-shot procedural strategy in order to pass the version of the “continuing resolution” government-funding bill advanced Friday by the House that would keep the government running only on the condition that all funding for the Obamacare health reform law is stripped from the budget.

RedState sent out an email “action alert” to supporters minutes ago:

redstate action alert

Observers have been calling this plan “desperate,” which doesn’t quite get at its quixotic nature.

Byron York’s take at the Washington Examiner stands out for capturing the blinkered dream-quality of the plan:

The idea is that “Republicans should vote to begin debate on the bill,” York writes. “But they should then vote in a bloc against limiting debate. That would stop dead the entire continuing resolution —including the defunding provision — as the clock ticks toward a possible government shutdown. Nothing could go forward. Republicans would then press [Democratic Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid to adopt a procedure that would require a 60-vote threshold to pass an amendment striking the defunding provision. At that point, if the Senate’s 46 Republicans remain united, Reid’s amendment could not pass.

The plan turns entirely on getting Reid to “adopt a procedure that would require a 60-vote threshold to pass an amendment,” which is not going to be easy. In fact, it’s going to be impossible.

Do RedState readers know that, to do what they want to do, the hardline, Obama-hating Republicans in the Senate have to get every single Democrat in the Senate to agree to help them defund Obamacare?

Americans exhausted by contemporary politics can be expected to ask themselves: But wait, how often are there unanimous votes on Capitol Hill, anyway?


And how likely is it that Democrats are going to be persuaded to do anything they’re being pushed to do by unabashedly abrasive, proudly intransigent Tea Party freshman Ted Cruz?


York talked to a Senate Republican aide, aghast at the plan. The aide responded either with a note that included words in all-caps or in a way that made York feel compelled to write up the conversation with all-caps words in order to convey the effect.

“It would require UNANIMOUS consent to change the vote threshold,” says one aide opposed to the defunding maneuver. “You really think Reid, Schumer, Bernie Sanders are all going to agree to make it EASY to strip Obamacare? Give me a break. And what leverage will they [the defunders] have to ‘force’ that? They will have just filibustered their own bill and shut down the government. They will be solely responsible for shutting down the government. Why would a single Democrat lift a finger to help them — much less give away Obamacare?”

That’s what’s happening on Capitol Hill today.

Last week, referring to all this on Twitter, former Colorado House Speaker Frank McNulty characterized Harry Reid as the “hardliner” who was opposing a common sense “bipartisan” proposal. McNulty was attempting to pressure Colorado’s two Democratic U.S. Senators to support Ted Cruz instead of Harry Reid in the coming showdown.

mcnulty tweet

In 2013, McNulty was demoted from House Speaker to back-bencher after leading an astonishingly artless last-minute effort to kill a same-sex civil unions bill in 2012. On the last day of the legislative session that year, well after sunset, he ran out the clock on debate by walking out of the chamber and staying out for hours, even though the bill had passed the Senate easily and enjoyed majority support in the Republican-controlled House. McNulty’s “walkabout” left a raft of bills un-passed and forced Gov. John Hickenlooper to call a special session of the legislature at tax payer expense to tie up the loose ends.

Democrats won the majority in the House at the ballot box six months later.


  1. Long after Ted Cruz finally shuts his mouth and sits down, those without coverage will discover they can purchase affordable health insurance. Those who are currently covered by their employers will be unaffected. Working families will be able to keep their kids insured longer and seniors will find the dreaded “donut hole” for prescription drugs shrinking and eventually going away altogether.

    The current Republican noise over rates going sky high is just that, NOISE, and nothing more. As the ACA takes hold over the next few months and Americans discover the benefits of the new law, the Republican party will find itself at another dead end. Like their asinine screaming over Benghazi and the IRS, Republicans will lose another one in their paranoia with President Obama.

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