Reid: Gentlemen’s agreement does not cover healthcare reform repeal

A few hours after entering into a gentlemen’s agreement to allow Republicans to offer more amendments, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he would block any effort to repeal the healthcare reform law.

Repealing the healthcare reform law Congress passed last year is congressional Republicans’ highest legislative priority, and they hope to offer a House-passed repeal measure on the Senate floor, most likely as an amendment.

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But Reid made clear an earlier agreement to allow more votes on Republican amendments would not extend to legislation repealing healthcare reform.

“I’m not going to be part of moving a bill to the floor that really whacks senior citizens,” Reid told reporters Thursday evening.

“I mean, think about that,” Reid said. “Now senior citizens can have a wellness check free — it doesn’t cost them anything.

“Seniors are now seeing that doughnut hole filled — I’m not going to be part of opening that doughnut hole again,” he said in reference to the gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage that the new healthcare law addresses.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) has pledged to bring the House-passed Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act to the Senate floor for a vote.

McConnell, however, has declined to reveal details of his strategy or when he plans to move.

Republicans would likely have to introduce the legislation as an amendment, since Reid controls the Senate floor agenda.

Earlier Thursday, Reid pledged to give Republicans more opportunities to offer amendments to improve the working relationship between the parties.

But Republicans have also warned that the gentlemen’s agreement on filibustering motions to proceed and allowing the minority to offer amendments would have its limits.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), the Senate Republican Conference chairman, warned earlier this week that Republicans would block efforts to take up card-check legislation, which would do away with the requirement that union shops organize after a vote by secret ballot.