GOP healthcare protest breaks-up Senate committee business

The GOP is upset that Democrats are using special rules to pass healthcare reform fixes with a simple majority of votes.

The procedural ambush, which caught Senate Democrats by surprise, is part of a multi-pronged protest of the healthcare reform bill that President Barack Obama signed into law on Tuesday.

Democratic chairmen had scheduled a Commerce Committee hearing on a national broadband plan, a Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, and a Homeland Security hearing on federal financial management.

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The sessions were scheduled for Tuesday afternoon and Senate rules require that lawmakers consent unanimously to holding meetings after 2 p.m., according to a Senate Democratic aide. Republicans did not offer their consent.

On Monday evening, Republicans lost a parliamentary ruling they hoped would derail the reconciliation package that includes healthcare reform fixes and a student lending overhaul.

Senate Republicans say they will raise many more procedural objections against the bill and have expressed confidence that some of these points of order will be successful.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), however, said the sections of the bill that are most likely to be thrown out by the parliamentarian are so minor that “they’re not even worth mentioning.”