Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Another E-GOP?

Back in November, I thought that Republicans were making a tactical error by filibustering the motion to proceed on health care reform.  The situation is different now (since they have 41), but I still think they're probably making a mistake by blocking consideration.  And not just for the excellent reasons that Jonathan Chait pointed out yesterday, or for that matter for the reasons I gave yesterday, although I think both of us were correct.  No, I just don't see what advantage it gives to the GOP to keep the bill off the Senate floor.  Granted, the rhetorical advantages they are handing to the Dems are not exactly game-changing, but still: the argument against consideration of the bill strikes me as one that is highly unlikely to be greeted very well by anyone who isn't already committed to accepting whatever talking points Republicans offer.  For as long as this goes on, the Democrats don't even have to argue the merits of the bill; they can just say that it's important, and that the Senate should work on it.  Good government types should love that!  On the other hand, if Republicans allowed the bill to come to the floor, they could then offer amendments and force tough votes -- and when (if?) they filibustered the final vote, they would have a much better rhetorical case to make (We have more amendments to offer!  What's the rush?). 

Granted, it's true that Democrats too could offer amendments and force tough votes, but given Senate rules (which allow Senators to offer any amendments they want) it seems to me that the amendment process puts the GOP on more-or-less equal footing.  After all, the Democrats are constrained by actually wanting both a bill that can pass and a good law, and therefore can't offer amendments that would harm either goal, while Republicans can pretty much offer anything they can think of to make the Dems look bad.  If they're really lucky, maybe they could get a killer amendment accepted and never have to cast a vote against the bill at all.

So, perhaps I'm missing something, but it sure seems to me that Republicans would be better off allowing the bill to come to the floor, but then objecting to any further unanimous consent agreement.


  1. Their advantage? Campaign contributions heading in to the midterm elections.

  2. I'm not talking about opposing the bill vs. supporting it; I'm talking about filibustering the motion to proceed compared to filibustering the final vote. I can't imagine that there's any difference in campaign contributions one way or another.

  3. I wouldn't fillibuster it; I'd just 'negotiate' until everybody went home for election season, and nothing more could be done.

  4. I wonder if we're appreciating the delicious irony of the Republicans stalling financial reform because they want to have more input before the bill reaches the Floor. In other words, they want to negotiate behind closed doors. After they pounded the Dems for putting together HCR in the same fashion, & took great pleasure in pointing out Obama's promise to do HCR in front of the C-SPAN cameras.

  5. Ooops!!! You obviously appreciate the delicious irony. I should have looked at your previous post farther down the chain.


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