Senate History

warning-light-510558_1280So far this week history has been made twice in the Senate Finance Committee.

FIRST HISTORICAL EVENT

On Tuesday, and again on Wednesday, all of the Democratic Senators, who were sent to D.C. to represent the people from their states, in an organized boycott, elected not to attend the Senate Finance Committee meeting to speak for the people of their state regarding President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price.

(In my opinion, their attempt to disrupt the smooth flow of government is at best a break of trust with the people in their states who sent them to D.C. to represent their interests and at worst an act of treason against the government of the United States.  To me there is a huge difference between a handful of congressman boycotting an inauguration and Senators refusing to do the work they were sent to D.C. to do.)

Giving these Senators the benefit of the doubt, the boycott was designed, by the participating senators, to use a parliamentary loop-hole to prevent a vote by the full senate, on president Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services.

SECOND HISTORICAL EVENT

On Wednesday, the second day of the Democratic attempt to obstruct the workings of president Trump’s administration, and thus the ability of the government to function,  Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Orrin Hatch consulted with the Senate Parliamentarian about his options. Soon thereafter he suspended the standing rules for there to be at least one member of the minority party present in order for a committee to vote.

(In 2010 Nancy Pelosi, and her Democrats, forced a piece of legislation on America where the most frequently used clause was, “The Secretary Shall…”   Now that the same political party is in the minority, in 2017, they are attempting to make sure that office remains empty.

Before anyone gets too upset about it being a violation of the U.S. Constitution, please remember that the Constitution only requires the full senate to confirm a cabinet level appointee and says nothing about how a committee should work.  The Constitution was written at a time when there were only 26 senators.  Since 1783 the size of the nation has almost quadrupled.  There are now 100 senators.  Committees are a way for members of the senate to gather information.  However, all committees do is send a report to every member of the senate that either recommends or not approval of the entire Senate.  All 100 members of the Senate are still required to vote to either confirm or not confirm a presidential nominee.  Keep in mind that Senators are still free to abstain from a vote, but that option is rare. )

The Senate Committee voted 14-0 to advance the nomination to the floor for a full Senate vote.

This means that the path is now almost clear for a full Senate vote on whether or not Tom Price will be confirmed by the Senate to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Tom Price’s nomination must still be discussed and reported on by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, aka H.E.L.P.,  However, with a Republican majority in the Senate, Mr. Price is expected to be confirmed late this week or early next week.

WHAT’S THIS MEAN TO YOU

Why is this important to you?  Mr. Trump is on record saying that he will not do anything about Obamacare until after he has people in positions of authority whom he can trust to do as he instructs.  That means that although his Executive Order from January 20 is a clear instruction to federal employees not to enforce the Individual Mandate, Mr. Trump wants to have his own people, and not Obama appointees, in positions of leadership over the departments who are tasked with enforcing federal health insurance laws.

After the Acting Attorney General, Sally Yates (an Obama appointee), refused to prosecute an Executive Order she was given by Trump and forced him to fire her, President Trump does not need any more distractions from civil servants, elected or not, in the process of setting up a replacement plan for Obamacare.

The confirmation of Trump’s Secretary of HHS is the next to last step in a repeal and replacement of Obamacare.

  1. Both Houses of Congress have already passed legislation to partially repeal Obamacare
  2. Tom Price’s confirmation as Secretary of HHS is expected to happen either this week or next
  3. The last element would be for both Houses of Congress to agree on a replacement plan for Obamacare.  That is expected to happen either the week before or the week after the State of the Union speech on February 28
Until all 3 elements have happened, and are in place, the nation continues with the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare” as the official law of the land.  Just keep in mind that while it is still law as of February 2, it is not expected to be the law on April 2.