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December 11, 2013

Johanns Discusses Obamacare, Democrats’ Efforts to Silence the Minority

“When the majority decided [to use the nuclear option] they put the United States Senate in a position where there are no rules. There are no rules.”

Democrats changed the rules because “Obamacare has turned out to be such a train wreck and there was a need to change the discussion…”

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) tonight spoke for just less than an hour on the Senate floor about the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s recent rules change, a move commonly referred to as the “nuclear option.” The rules change was done through a parliamentary tactic that allows a simple majority to change the Senate rules by overruling the presiding officer. The Democrats’ change allows certain nominations to be confirmed by the Senate with a straight party-line vote, the same way the Democrat majority passed Obamacare, and effectively silences the Senate minority.

Below are excerpts from Johanns’ remarks:

• On Obamacare:
“It's not the web site. The web site was a mess. It just proved to us that the White House couldn't manage this. That's what it proved to us. But you can fix a web site. You can get smart people. They can go in and figure it out … But what is happening here is that the wheels are coming off this policy because the policy never made any sense.”

• On how the nuclear option paralleled the passage of Obamacare:
“We went 225 years as a country and it was only in the last couple weeks that the majority said, ‘Look, we're tired of dealing with you, minority. We're going to get our own way.’ It reminded me of that day that Obamacare was passed. It was identical. It was like… ‘We don't care what you think about this. We've got 60 votes. Sit down, shut up.’ Is that the way the United States Senate is supposed to operate? I don't think so. I don't think that was what was envisioned when this body was put together. And it's been forever changed.”

• On the ramifications of the Democrats’ use of the so-called nuclear option:
“We need the majority to recognize that this body has existed through difficult times. It has existed through wars. It has existed through attacks on our country, and it found a way to operate … I'm very concerned, though, that we have put the United States Senate in a position where it is a very, very vulnerable body now. Any majority can now use this precedent to turn this into something that is entirely different than what anybody who founded this country believed it should be. When the majority decided that it would bypass the requirement that rules would be changed by a two-thirds vote and do it by appealing the ruling of the chair, they put the United States Senate in a position where there are no rules. There are no rules.”

• On Democrats using the nuclear option to change the conversation after Obamacare’s disastrous rollout:
“Many, many times the nuclear option was discussed, it was debated, and senators much wiser than myself looked at the history of this great country and its future and decided it was a step that should never be taken. That was until a couple of weeks ago, all driven by the fact that this piece of legislation called Obamacare has turned out to be such a train wreck and there was a need to change the discussion and change the topic and try to draw the people's attention away from that legislation. That's how this rule got adopted. It's a sad time in our nation's history. It is a sad time in terms of what's going on. And what I would offer is my hope is that wise people will realize that the precedent they have set forever changes the way we operate and back away from what occurred.”

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