This week the House will pass a bill to repeal Obamacare. Congressional experts will argue that the Senate won’t pass a full repeal. They are correct to argue that full repeal will not be passed by both the House and Senate in the next few months, but they may be wrong that a full repeal bill will not pass in this Congress within the next two years. If Senators don’t take two procedural steps this week, they will make it virtually impossible to ever get a vote on the House-passed full repeal bill this Congress.
The House will pass H.R. 2 this week. Once that bill is passed, it will be sent to the Senate for consideration. Once the Senate receives the bill, any Senator can use Rule 14 to object to the second reading of the bill. This procedural objection will “hold at the desk” the House-passed bill and allow the Senate to act on the full repeal measure.
If the bill is referred to committee, it will never get to the Senate floor. This procedural objection by one or a number of Senators will stop the bill from being referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP). If the bill is referred to committee, there is little to no expectation that the committee will pass the bill, let alone have one hearing on the bill.
Objecting to Rule 14 would hold the bill at the desk of the Senate and would put H.R. 2 on the Senate calendar. This procedure could be done with a letter or call from one Senator to the party leader. This would allow the Senate Majority Leader to commence debate on the matter when he so chooses. It is unlikely that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–NV) would move to proceed to the bill, yet there is a procedure that any Senator can use to force a debate.