Received this email: Join us with other Common Sense Texans across the State as we gather in front of Kay Bailey Hutchison's Office. Houston Tea Party Society is going with Katy Tea and San Jacinto Tea Party while our CST sister orgs protest her other offices across the state as well. Monday, December 21 at 5:00 PM 1919 Smith Street (Leland Federal Building) Suite 800 Houston, Texas 77002 Please take a moment after work and before dinner on Monday to make your voice heard! Background: At this point, Harry Reid's health care bill can only be slowed or stopped by the use of senate procedures including the filibuster (procedural block). Harry Reid almost certainly has the 50 votes necessary for passage of the bill. Thus, if the bill gets to a final up-or-down vote on the Senate floor, the bill will almost certainly pass. At this point, news reports are telling us that Harry Reid has the 60 votes necessary to break any filibuster, but we are still several days away from that vote, and a lot can happen in a few days. It is the conventional wisdom that the opponents of the health care bill will have to employ every procedural tool at their disposal to stop or slow this bill. Every vote matters. There is no room for error, division or infighting. It is broadly acknowledged that, if the bill is to be slowed down, and hopefully defeated, a united front will be critical. Senators opposing Harry Reid's health care bill had imposed a filibuster on pending legislation in order to prevent Reid's health care bill from getting to a final vote before Christmas. As you are aware, given the current makeup of the Senate, a filibuster can only be maintained if the opposition minority holds together and votes consistently as a bloc. Snowe, Collins and Hutchison Break Ranks: As you may have heard, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Texas' own Kay Bailey Hutchison joined Harry Reid in voting to break a Republican filibuster on Friday. (The specific bill under consideration at the time was a spending bill on defense appropriations, but the vote in question related to maintaining the filibuster.) The breaking of this filibuster moved one more obstacle out of the way and helped Harry Reid's health care bill move another step closer to passage through the Senate. Erick Erickson of RedState has taken a hard line on Hutchison's vote: Kay Bailey Hutchison, much maligned for campaigning in Texas during the health care debate, boldly announced that she would go to Washington and stay there to fight health care and kill it dead. Instead, today she accelerated it getting to the Senate floor in a bit of Senate gamesmanship. http://www.redstate.com/erick/2009/12/18/for-kay-bailey-hutchison-staying-in-washington-to-fight-health-care-means-expediting-its-passage/ Erickson also claims that Hutchison's vote broke a promise she made to hold rank. I've found Erick to be a consistently credible source, but we have not yet been unable to independently confirm that assertion, so do with that what you will. Hutchison's Explanation: We called Senator Hutchison's office to confirm the reports of this vote, and to ask for her side of the story. Senator Hutchison's office confirmed that Hutchison did indeed vote to end the filibuster. Her office also explained that Hutchison voted to end the filibuster because she was convinced that the filibuster would be broken with or without her vote, and she considered her vote an expression of 'support for the troops.' (As noted above, the filibuster was delaying the passage of a defense appropriations bill.) Analysis: Hutchison is almost certainly correct that the opposition filibuster would have been broken even without Hutchison's vote to break it (60 Democrats and two other Republicans--Snowe and Collins--voted the same way). Further, in terms of chronology, it appears she was the 61st vote for the motion. Thus, she wasn't the 60th 'critical vote.' That said, whatever opinion one may hold on Senator Hutchison's vote, there is some concern that Hutchison's vote with Collins and Snowe may indicate less than solid support for the opposition effort to this bill. It was suggested that we may want to consider organizing emergency rallies for early this week to help stiffen Senator Hutchison's spine and encourage her to hold rank with the opposition from here on out.