Thune: GOP preparing to slow or block health bill in Senate debate

Republicans are preparing to raise points of order and other roadblocks to the healthcare bill, a member of the Senate GOP leadership said Tuesday evening.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the fourth-ranking Senate Republican who serves as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, said the GOP is prepared for a number of scenarios in which they would seek to slow down or halt passage of healthcare legislation once it comes back before the Senate. 

"I still think it creates a lot of problems when it comes back to the Senate because there will be lots of points of order that will lie against the bill in the Senate, and obviously, we will, hopefully, have the opportunity to raise some of those," Thune said of the health bill during an appearance on Fox News. 

At issue is the new bill of healthcare legislation changes the House is expected to pass under budget reconciliation rules. Under those rules, the legislation only has to achieve a simple majority in the Senate instead of the 60 normally needed to end a filibuster. Such a maneuver would effectively sidestep Republican opposition to the health bill. 

"You know, I don't want to concede that it's going to pass for sure yet," Thune said. "I still think that there's a lot of clock left in this game."

Republicans have fewer procedural options under reconciliation rules, which limits debate and is designed to eventually force votes on a piece of legislation. The GOP might object, though, for instance, to whether the new legislation is germane to the budget. These points are decided by the Senate parliamentarian, but could be overruled by the president of the Senate.

"I think we have to be prepared for all types of different scenarios and sort of game this out," Thune explained. "I mean, our goal at the end is to stop a really bad bill from passing."

"So my guess is, before this is all said and done, that if they want to pass it, they may be able to pass it, but we're going to do everything we can on the side of the American people to try and stop a really bad bill from passing," the South Dakota senator added.