WRECKING BALL

Cruz, Paul to Go ‘Nuclear’ on Obamacare

Aaron Bernstein/Reuters

Rand Paul

Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) have teamed up for a potential “nuclear” showdown on repealing Obamacare during reconciliation, the express budget process that Republicans want to use to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Cruz and Paul say their colleagues are allowing outdated Senate norms to dictate their plans to deal with the law and are thus forfeiting a chance to completely abolish it. As it stands now, nonpartisan Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough decides whether each provision in the bill has a direct effect on the budget. Instead, Cruz and Paul argue that whoever presides over the Senate at the time can decide. The duo say that Vice President Mike Pence, president of the Senate, could make those calls instead of MacDonough. “The original law says the [person in the] chair decides—it doesn’t say anything about the parliamentarian,” Paul said. But most other Republicans interviewed by Politico said they have no interest in testing the Senate’s procedural bounds. “I don’t think it’s the best approach, and I think there would be resistance to that,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS). “It’s tempting, but it’s also the proverbial slippery slope.” John Cornyn (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) also said they do not support Cruz and Paul’s plan.