Under the reconciliation order, debate is capped at 20 hours. If any changes are made, the bill would have to return to that chamber for a separate vote—something House Democrats are leery of doing.
Republicans said they would try to exploit those rules in an attempt to either stall or scrap the bill altogether. On Monday, however, the GOP suffered a setback when Senate parliamentarian Alan Frumin—the official referee in the process—knocked down an attempt to scuttle the bill over how it would interact with the Social Security system.
“That was one I felt should have gone the other way,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said.
On a second front, Republicans said they would offer a series of amendments meant to reshape the bill signed by the president. Though the amendments will almost certainly be defeated, the effect could be to lengthen the process.
“We will have one after the other, a whole series of very substantive, appropriate amendments which will try to significantly improve what is fundamentally a bad bill so the American people can see the problems,” said Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, the senior Republican on the Budget Committee.
Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who chairs the Budget Committee, said party leaders were meticulous when they crafted the reconciliation package.
“Every single thing that we thought” could halt the process has been taken out, he said.
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