First, a little history. If you were around in the 1980s, you might remember something called the "Boland Amendment." The Boland Amendment was the handiwork of a backbencher Massachusetts congressman named Edward Boland. During the Reagan years, Boland would routinely attach an amendment to the last-second omnibus spending bills that Congress would pass to keep the government running. The amendment would bar the Reagan administration from aiding the efforts of the Nicaraguan contras against the Marxist Sandinista government. This was ridiculous, of course -- it wasn't the purview of a backbencher congressman to dictate foreign policy, but Reagan was forced to either sign the budget bill with the Boland Amendment or issue a veto and shut the government down. And it was precisely because of the Boland Amendment, which was treated as a Holy of Holies by the Democrats and their media pets, that we had the Iran-contra "scandal."
Now that ObamaCare is law in the form of the Senate bill that is much hated for the corrupt dealings that were involved in its passage, Congress is acting to take up a reconciliation bill that would supposedly fix things like the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase and other such goodies that grabbing Senators received for their votes. And this gives the Republicans a chance to embarrass the Democrats. We have two pretty good examples already.
First, the amusing one:
On Tuesday, the GOP put its strategy into action, with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okl.) introducing an amendment beyond agreeable. Titled “No Erectile Dysfunction Drugs To Sex Offenders” it would literally prohibit convicted child molesters, rapists, and sex offenders from getting erectile dysfunction medication from their health care providers.
While it will undoubtedly be difficult for Democrats to vote against the measure (one can conjure up the campaign ads already), the party plans to do just that.
“Democrats in the Senate are very unified that this is not going back to the House,” Sen. Wyden (D-Ore.) told the Huffington Post on Tuesday, minutes before the Coburn amendment was introduced.
Allahpundit makes an appropriately mordant observation:
Everyone get the joke here? If the Dems amend the reconciliation bill for any reason, they have to send it back to the House for yet another vote. So anything the GOP proposes — anything — they’re basically bound to vote no on. And Coburn knows it. One tasty shinola sandwich, coming up! Although I’m confused: If, as the left has convinced itself, ObamaCare is pure win for them politically (see, e.g., today’s ridiculously overhyped Gallup poll), what’s the aversion to another House vote? In fact, why not ping-pong the bill back and forth between the chambers for another month, loading it up with ever more crowd-pleasing amendments? It’s time to own the glorious political victory that looms in November, liberals.
Then there's this:
As the Senate grinds through 20 hours of debate on the health care reconciliation bill, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Tuesday night offered an amendment that would require the president, vice-president, members of Congress, political appointees and congressional staff to get their federal health benefits through the soon-to-be-created health insurance exchanges.Your assignment: tell me why such an amendment is a bad idea.
This group currently gets insurance through a system overseen by the Office of Management and Budget and under the health care bill signed into law today, some of the congressional staff would have to sign up for insurance through the exchanges. But some would be exempted. Politico filed a story Tuesday night pointing out that leadership and committee staff are exempt from having to use the exchanges. This has caused a bit of an uproar on Capitol Hill, with Republicans accusing top Democratic staff of writing a health care law that's not good enough for them to participate in.
"President Obama has publicly advertised that his reforms would give members of the public the same coverage available to Members of Congress," reads a GOP summary of the Grassley measure. "This amendment would ensure that he, his
successors, and all his appointed political officials would also have the same coverage members of the public enrolled in the Exchange receive."