I could explain this to you in great detail, but the short answer is that, no, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah will not be able to use the so-called Nuclear Option to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Even if things go exactly as he plans, the Democrats will be able to filibuster the transportation bill. And the president would veto the bill anyway, even if it meant there was a lapse in transportation funding.
However, there could be an important precedent established. What Sen. Mike Lee wants to do is offer an amendment that repeals Obamacare to the transportation bill. He knows that this amendment isn’t germane. He knows that the parliamentarian will rule that it is not germane. But he wants to use the nuclear option to make it so 51 senators can overrule the parliamentarian and then vote on a non-germane amendment as if it is germane.
Republican senators will be tempted to go along with this because it allows them to vote against Obamacare without any real consequences. After all, the Democratic senators will go apeshit if this amendment is passed in this way and won’t allow a vote on the overall bill. And if they somehow cave, the president will surely refuse to sign the bill.
But, if the Republican senators go along, they will set a precedent that can be used successfully in different circumstances. Basically, this would undermine the authority of the parliamentarian and do real damage to the rules and norms of the Senate. It would increase the frequency with which obnoxious amendments are attached to must-pass legislation.
It’s just a bad idea.
And it’s another annoying indication that, once weaponized, the Stupid will not quit.