GOP senators to block defense bill in bid to delay health-care vote

Senate Republicans said Thursday that they would try to filibuster a massive Pentagon bill that funds the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an unusual move that several acknowledged was an effort to delay President Obama’s health-care legislation.

“I don’t want health care,” Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) said in explaining his support of a filibuster. He is a member of the Appropriations Committee, which crafted the Pentagon funding bill.

Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Richard C. Shelby (Ala.) and Christopher “Kit” Bond (Mo.) admitted they support the spending bill but acknowledged they were considering opposing it because of the health-care debate.

Democrats were furious. They believed they had a deal with Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss.), the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, to support the bill, but by Thursday night Cochran was saying he was unsure how he would vote.

“They are prepared to jeopardize funding for troops at war,” Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said Thursday evening. “If Democrats did that, there would be cries of treason.”