ClickNow_ReidThe CBO says that drug reimportation would save the government $19 billion dollars, and the public $100 billion dollars. In reality, however, Jon Walker estimates it could be more like $400-$500 billion, if the reimported drugs pressure the price of US drugs down.

Sounds like a good thing, right?  Except Harry Reid uses his control over procedure to do what Harry Reid wants to do. (Tell that fish story about “60 votes” and Joe Lieberman being the block to anything to someone else.) And what he wants to do is block Dorgan’s drug reimportation bill, and protect Obama’s PhRMA deal.

Powwow:

In another example from today’s public Senate session, of some of the secret Party/presidential manipulations (in lieu of public, democratic legislating) that have now slipped out into the open, and await decoding and deciphering [as posted in a comment to mikesong's Obama-character-witness Seminal diary about the once-secret PhRMA deal]:

The Dorgan amendment (the drug re-importation amendment, which has 30 co-sponsors, including Snowe and McCain) was called up for floor debate by Dorgan (as instructed by his Party leader) on Tuesday evening. It is now Thursday evening, two days later, and the Senate has adjourned for the night (as of shortly after 8 p.m.), without yet taking a vote on Dorgan’s amendment (though Dorgan was openly expecting one sometime yesterday afternoon), and after moving off the health care bill to debate (and, three hours in, see filed a cloture motion to end that debate two days hence, unless waived by UC) a motion to proceed to the multiple-appropriation-bill (trillion-dollar-plus) omnibus conference report just passed by the House.

Though no unanimous consent request to actually vote on the Dorgan amendment has yet been agreed to, one was offered at about 7 p.m. this evening by Harry Reid, after he was publicly pressured on the floor to do so (at least on behalf of the parallel Republican Senator Crapo amendment – formally a motion to commit – that was also called up for debate on Tuesday evening) by Republican leader Mitch McConnell at about 3 p.m. this afternoon.

After being publicly cast as the one stopping the amendment process by McConnell (rather than the other way around, as is the conventional wisdom the Democrats promote at every opportunity), Reid rather-petulantly agreed to try to do some more negotiating behind the scenes with McConnell on amendments later in the afternoon.

Then, at 7 p.m., Harry Reid came to the floor and proposed a UC request for (60-vote-margin) votes on four amendments (only two of which have been under active debate – Dorgan and Crapo). The other two amendments included were a Baucus Sense of the Senate amendment, paired with Crapo’s amendment, and a new, 100-page (Democratic) Senator Lautenberg amendment apparently also dealing with drug re-importation in some manner, to pair with (Democrat) Byron Dorgan’s.

Unanswered Questions: What is this new 100-page Lautenberg amendment (which was provided to the Republicans for review for the first time at 2 p.m. this afternoon), did Lautenberg come up with it on his own, and, most of all, why isn’t Lautenberg working with Dorgan to amend Dorgan’s amendment? Rather than undermining, presumably, the chances of Dorgan’s amendment passing (with 60 votes) by offering – assuming it is – a watered-down, political-cover substitute to Dorgan’s re-importation amendment (as is usually done by Democrats to counter “tough vote” Republican amendments, not Democratic amendments).

Meanwhile, while we try to figure out what this Lautenberg gambit is, Mitch McConnell was willing to agree to proceed to the Crapo and Baucus amendment votes this evening (in response to Reid at 7 p.m.), but could not agree on the Lautenberg/Dorgan pairing, because Republican Senators were taken by surprise, with only one hour’s notice, on the Lautenberg amendment’s lengthy language.

As he shut down the Senate this evening an hour later, Dick Durbin indicated that they hoped to renew their UC Request tomorrow (after Republicans have had a chance to review more carefully the Lautenberg amendment). So votes may in fact be held tomorrow on Dorgan and Lautenberg.

[In case my reading-between-the-lines point is less than clear here, yes, I am surmising, without proof as yet, that the White House is intervening via Lautenberg to save the gist of its PhRMA deal without being caught in the act (so mikesong's position, for example, can still be safely asserted, with plausible deniability), hoping that Democratic arms can be successfully twisted to support Lautenberg's amendment in lieu of supporting, and in order to defeat, Dorgan's...]

Reid is turning the Senate into a quasi-criminal enterprise. His arrogance is astounding.