Rep. Paul Ryan says that Democrats are ready to ram a "shell" health care bill through the Budget Committee, on which he serves as ranking Republican member, to use as a vehicle to impose national health care.
In a phone interview with TAS Thursday afternoon, Ryan said that he expects Democrats to begin the complex process on Monday, under which they would have the Budget Committee approve a phantom bill by midnight, which they will then send over to the Rules Committee. At that point, the Rules Committee will strip out all of the language in the phantom bill, and insert the changes to the Senate bill that Democrats have negotiated.
"They don't have the votes right now, but they're creating the vehicle so that they can airdrop in whatever changes they want," Ryan said.
He said that Republicans are outnumbered 2-to-1 on his committee and don't have the votes to stop the bill there. Democrats will also be able to prevent Republicans from offering any amendments, but GOP members will be able to offer "motions to instruct" the Rules Committee, that Ryan said will be used highlight problems with the "unprecedented" step that Democrats are taking.
He said he expected Democrats to dust off last year's health care bills from the Education and Labor and Ways and Means Committees, to use as the vehicle for reconciliation changes.
Ryan said that the Senate parliamentarian's ruling that President Obama must sign a health care bill into law before the Senate can change it through reconciliation largely renders moot the attempt by Rep. Louise Slaughter to shield members from a direct vote on the Senate health care bill. He said the idea would also violate Obama's call for an up-or-down vote. "That's not an up-or-down vote, that's sweeping it under the rug and into law," Ryan said.
He also warned against focusing too much on the reconciliation process in the Senate. "Reconciliation is a distraction," he said. "Once the House passes the Senate bill we have the massive new entitlement."
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