Cruz suggests ignoring Senate parliamentarian for ObamaCare repeal

Cruz suggests ignoring Senate parliamentarian for ObamaCare repeal
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Senate GOP votes to permanently ban earmarks Jim Carrey fires back at 'Joe McCarthy wanna-be' Cruz MORE (R-Texas) is suggesting that the GOP could ignore interpretations of the Senate parliamentarian if it means sending a full repeal of ObamaCare to the president’s desk.

“At the end of the day, the Senate parliamentarian is an employee of the Senate. Virtually every Republican campaigned promising full repeal,” Cruz, who is running for president, told The Hill on Thursday.

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GOP leaders have been scrambling this week to shape a reconciliation bill that would roll back major pieces of ObamaCare while following the complex — and sometimes subjective — Senate rules.

The House Rules Committee finalized its version of the reconciliation bill late Wednesday night, which repeals the individual and employer mandate, along with a slew of taxes. That bill, described as a partial repeal of ObamaCare, is slated for a vote Friday.

But Cruz, echoed by Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOn The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump Hillicon Valley: Google delays cutting off Huawei | GOP senators split over breaking up big tech | Report finds DNC lagging behind RNC on cybersecurity MORE (R-Utah), is now railing against it, accusing House leadership of failing to understand Senate procedure and faltering in pursuit of full repeal.

“I literally don't understand their logic,” Lee said in an interview with The Daily Caller on Wednesday. “The Byrd rule allows for a whole lot more repeal of ObamaCare than what is being contemplated.”

Under the Senate’s Byrd rule, a reconciliation bill can only include provisions that have a direct impact on the budget. Anything else is considered “extraneous.”

Those rules are interpreted by Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, who is an appointee of Senate GOP leadership.

McDonough has worked with Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziKudos to the legislators trying to fix our broken budget On The Money: Mnuchin signals officials won't release Trump tax returns | Trump to hold off on auto tariffs | WH nears deal with Mexico, Canada on metal tariffs | GOP fears trade war fallout for farmers | Warren, regulator spar over Wells Fargo Budget chairs pick former Bush official to head CBO MORE (R-Wyo.), who has worked with House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.). House members are not allowed to consult directly with the Senate's rulekeeper.

Price amended the reconciliation bill Wednesday to strike out a repeal of Medicare’s cost-cutting board, known as Independent Payment Advisory board, which MacDonough said would have disrupted the reconciliation process.

While the parliamentarian’s role is strictly advisory, Senate leaders rarely ignore his or her advice.

Cruz suggested that the parliamentarian could be sidestepped, while Lee said it still wasn’t clear what issues MacDonough would have with the House’s reconciliation bill.

“The Byrd rule is for us to worry about in the Senate, not in the House. They need to pass a repeal bill that repeals as much as ObamaCare as we possibly can, the whole thing as far as I’m considered,” Lee said.

“Then let us worry about what does and what doesn’t trigger the Byrd rule. We can narrow it down on our side as we run into problems with the Byrd rule.”  

- This post was updated at 6:44 p.m.