Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) took to the floor of the Senate on Thursday morning to defend the health care reform obstructionist manifesto he penned a day earlier.
Speaking minutes after Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) mocked his document as the first "detailed plan" introduced by Republicans in the health care debate, Gregg lashed back. Saying that he was doing merely what the Founding Fathers envisioned the minority party's role to be, Gregg claimed that Reid would be walking the same path if the majority leader were in his shoes.
"I suspect he actually would pass this out to his members for information were they in the minority, maybe even in the majority, because they'd like to know how the rules work in the Senate," the New Hampshire Republican insisted. "Isn't there an ironic inconsistency to his outrage that we have insisted that people should know the rules here while he has basically tried to go around the rules?"
"I just find the irony of the situation so unique... that a memo of that nature, which essentially says the minority has certain rights in order for the institution to function correctly, I'm wondering: why did we create these rules in the first place?" Gregg added. "Wasn't it so that we could continue the thoughts of Adams and Madison, who suggested that the Senate should be the place where, when legislation comes forward -- which has been rushed through the House -- that the Senate should be the place where that legislation receives a deliberative view, where it's explored as to its unintended consequences and as to its consequences generally, and where the body has the opportunity to amend it effectively so it can be improved?"
Earlier, Reid granted that all legislation -- and especially a historic health care bill -- deserved a thorough and transparent consideration. But Gregg's memo wasn't about affecting the bill. It was about delaying it. The New Hampshire Republican outlined every conceivable procedural tool the GOP could use to delay health care's passage, which, as Reid noted, wasn't the same as strategizing about how to get a Republican amendment added to the legislation.
Indeed, as Max Baucus, the senator who followed Gregg on the floor, noted: the notion that Republicans needed a refresher course on the rules granted to the minority party was spurious at best, and an indictment of their institutional knowledge at worst.
"This is the fourth day on this bill, and we're only late this morning coming to our first vote. Even for the United States Senate, this is a slow pace," said Baucus. "I note that some have made plans for delaying this bill even in a more extreme fashion. As the majority leader noted earlier today, on Tuesday one senator circulated a list of delaying tactics available under the Senate rules. I presume that all senators know the Senate rules already, so to send that letter to me, I think, leaves the impression that that senator would like to urge senators to use some of those delaying tactics stated in that memo."
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Back in 2006, Gregg blasted what he called "obstruction for the purpose of obstruction."
"If distributing an obstruction manifesto didn't already prove it, the unbridled hypocrisy of Senator Gregg lays bare that Republicans have no interest in enacting insurance reform, but only in killing it. Republicans are proving with each floor speech, with each delay tactic, and with each lie that they are willing to say and do anything to kill insrance reform, even if it means American families and businesses will drown in soaring premiums in perpetuity," said DNC National Press Secretary Hari Sevugan.