If it wasn’t crystal clear before that Senate Republicans will stop at nothing to make sure their Democratic rivals don’t pass a health care reform bill by Christmas, or anytime, it should be now. On Friday, GOP senators attempted, unsuccessfully, to filibuster a huge military spending bill that needed to be passed expeditiously in order to secure funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq without interruption.

The reason? Health care, of course. In their single-minded zeal to thwart the health bill’s passage, Republicans figured they could stretch out the time allotted to consider the military spending bill via filibuster, regardless of the consequences of delaying that vote, thus ensuring that they would take even longer to get back to the health care debate. The Washington Post just couldn’t seem to get over how “unusual” their strategy was, but Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates was definitely over it, and pretty incensed over it at that, as early as Thursday. –KA

The Washington Post:

Republicans have provided the backbone of support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and many have praised Obama’s troop increase in Afghanistan. When the House considered the same legislation Wednesday, 164 of the 175 Republicans present voted for it, so the Senate GOP plan to oppose defense spending Friday morning put them in an unusual position.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) cited the roughly 1,800 earmarks in the bill worth $4.2 billion in explaining his opposition, but most others were blunt in their rational for opposing the military legislation.

“I don’t want health care,” Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) said Thursday evening.

Taking the floor as the new day’s session began just past midnight, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) laid out what appeared to be a case to filibuster the defense bill. “The bill that is before us is not what is driving, actually, the timing of this vote at 12:15 in the morning on Friday. I think that what is driving it is health care,” Hutchison said.

[…] Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates sent Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a blistering letter Thursday warning of a “serious disruption” in the military’s ability to pay troops. “It is inconceivable to me that such a situation would be permitted to occur with U.S. forces actively deployed in combat,” Gates wrote.

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