The plan to put the Senate GOP on the spot

THE PLAN TO PUT THE SENATE GOP ON THE SPOT…. When congressional Republicans think they have a policy that works for them, they have a process they want to see followed: start with an ambitious House bill, pass it, lean on the Democratic Senate to hold an up-or-down vote. Even if Dems reject the House measure, Republicans will have the Senate majority on the record.

In early February, for example, the House GOP voted to eliminate the entirety of the Affordable Care Act, and Senate Republicans went to great lengths to force Democratic leaders to bring the measure to the Senate floor.

But occasionally, this dynamic can be turned on its head.

Senate Democratic aides expect Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to force Senate Republicans to vote on the Paul Ryan budget plan.

Reid hasn’t made a formal decision yet, and won’t until he returns from an overseas trip.

The idea is to drive a wedge through the GOP caucus and put vulnerable incumbents such as Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) in a political jam.

It’s the polar opposite of the ACA-repeal vote — have you noticed Senate Republican leaders demanding that the House budget bill be brought to the floor for a vote? No? There’s a reason for that.

The House GOP measure is extreme and unpopular. If Senate Republicans vote for it anyway, Dems can and will use it against them. If some in the Senate GOP balk — as Maine’s Susan Collins already has — Dems will use that to emphasize the “bipartisan” opposition to the House agenda and use it as leverage in budget talks.

This seems to belong in the “no brainer” category.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.