House Conservatives Warn GOP Senators: Vote for Cloture ‘Same As a Vote for Obamacare Itself’

By Terence P. Jeffrey | September 27, 2013 | 12:01am EDT

Rep. Jim Bridenstine and his wife Michelle and their three children. (AP Photo)

( - A group of 21 conservative members of the House of Representatives sent a letter late Thursday to all 46 Senate Republicans warning them that if they voted for cloture on the continuing resolution in the Senate—which would put Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) in a position to reinstate Obamacare funding with just 51 partisan votes--the House conservatives would consider that vote for cloture the same as if these Republican senators had voted for Obamacare itself.

“As you are well aware,” the House conservatives wrote, “it is highly likely that Majority Leader Harry Reid will move to amend the House-passed CR and remove the language from the bill that defunds Obamacare before sending it back to the House.

“As you are also aware,” the conservatives wrote, “such a motion can only proceed if three-fifths of the Senate invokes cloture and allows this amendment process to begin. Simply put, the only chance that Senator Reid has to pursue this course of action is if six or more Republican Senators join the Democrats in voting to invoke cloture.

“Therefore,” the House conservatives said to every Republican senator, “it shall be our policy to regard any cloture vote that gives Senator Reid a green light to reinstate Obamacare into this CR the same as a vote for Obamacare itself.”

Last week, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted for a continuing resolution to fund the government past Monday that included language that prohibits any funds from being used to implement any provision of Obamacare or that allows any of the entitlements or benefits created under Obamacare from taking effect.

Senate Majority Leader Reid will call a cloture vote on this bill on Friday. That vote--which would allow Reid to cut off debate on the bill and move toward a final vote on passage--requires a super-majority of 60 senators. However, once cloture has been approved--because Reid has not agreed to invoke a Senate rule that would require that all amendments to the bill to also meet the 60-vote threshold--he will then be able to bring up an amendment that restores full funding for implementation of Obamacare that can be approved with only 51 votes.

Because the Senate now has 54 Democrats and 46 Republicans, Senate Republicans have the votes—if they stick together—to stop cloture. But they do not have the votes to stop an amendment to fully fund Obamacare if that amendment requires only 51 votes instead of 60.

“If Republican Senators hold strong and demand a 60-vote threshold, they can force Senator Reid to allow a vote on the bill passed in the House, without funding for ObamaCare,” said Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R.-Okla.), who authored the letter to the Senate Republicans.

“Republicans must not vote for ‘cloture’, a step which would end debate, until Harry Reid guarantees a 60-vote threshold on any amendment including his amendment to add back ObamaCare,” said Bridenstine.

“If Republicans vote for cloture, they are voting to enable Reid’s amendment to pass with a simple majority,” said Bridenstine. “This is effectively voting for ObamaCare.”

Bridenstine said that the letter was initially signed by 21 members of the House and has been delivered by hand to all Senate Republicans. Additional House members were being asked to sign the letter, he said.

In addition to Bridenstine, the original 21 signers included Dave Schweikert (R.-Ariz.),  Charles Boustany, M.D. (R.-La. ), John Culberson (R.-Texas ), Steve King (R.-Iowa), Ted Yoho DVM (R.-Fla. ), Thomas Massie (R.-Ky.), Lynn Westmoreland (R.- Ga. ), Jack Kingston (R.-Ga.), Jeff Duncan (R.-S.C.), Paul Broun M.D. (R.-Ga. ), Ron DeSantis (R.-Fla.), Michele Bachmann (R.-Minn.), Matt Salmon (R.-Ariz.), Steve Stockman (R.-Texas), Louie Gohmert (R.-Texas), Walter Jones (R.-N.C.), Scott Garrett (R.-N.J.), Scott Perry (R.-Pa.), Mark Meadows (R.-N.C.), Tim Huelskamp (R.-Kan.)

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