Commonsense Conservative For Ohio


Sen. Portman Prepares for GOP Senate Takeover

By Patrick O'Connor

April 11, 2014


If Senate Republicans win a majority in the midterm elections this fall, expectations will be sky-high for the party to accomplish some of its long-held goals, from eliminating the 2010 health law to overhauling the tax code.

The reality, though, is that it will be exceedingly difficult for an often-fractured party with a narrow majority to pass overly ambitious legislation in a chamber that frequently requires the support of 60 senators to approve controversial bills. That explains why a handful of Republicans are already working hard to lay the framework for a potential governing agenda.

Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) spent four months corralling the support of all 45 Republican senators for a jobs plan that seeks to repeal the new health law, overhaul the tax code and aggressively cut spending. While the blueprint gives candidates some broad principles to run on, it’s greater purpose is to serve as a rough template for what the GOP hopes to do legislatively if the party recaptures the Senate majority this fall.

“This is really important for 2014,” Mr. Portman said in an interview. “It may be equally important for 2015 because, if we do win a majority, I think we’re going to have a challenge to quickly bring our party together, in the House and the Senate, with an agenda that includes a lot of these common-sense reforms.”

The Ohio Republican acknowledged the difficulty of getting all of his colleagues to embrace an outline that touches on deficit reduction, tax reform and a replacement for President Barack Obamas signature health law, saying, “As you can imagine, between [Maine Sen.] Susan Collins and [Texas Sen.] Ted Cruz, we have a pretty big spectrum in our party.”

Mr. Portman signaled the party could use a parliamentary maneuver known as budget reconciliation to pass more controversial legislation, like reworking the tax code and overhauling entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid to save the government money. Under reconciliation, GOP leaders would only need 51 votes to pass legislation.

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