Monday, April 26, 2010

GOP Demand: Backroom Deal

Let's see if I understand this one correctly...Harry Reid, the Majority Leader, wants the Senate to move next to the banking bill.  Republicans objected, and pledge to unanimously vote against the motion to proceed.  Why?  Not, apparently, because they don't think that the Senate should act on financial reform.  Instead, their stated reason for blocking consideration of the bill is that they want more time to work out a bipartisan agreement on the issue.

But...last I heard, when Democratic leaders were working out agreements on health care with Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu, the proper name for that was the dreaded "backroom deal," the scourge of all that was right and proper and above board and clean.  Or perhaps backroom deals are only a bad thing if Republicans don't have the votes to stop them.

Just to be clear: the GOP is correct this time; not only is there nothing wrong with concerned Senators working things out about a piece of legislation, but it's exactly how Congress is supposed to work.  It's a very good thing.  Now, I'm not thrilled with a filibuster of the motion to proceed; if Republicans really want a bill, they lose nothing by letting the bill come to the floor and allowing the Senate to work on amendments, while holding in reserve the threat to prevent a final vote.  But generally, American democracy, at least the Congressional version of it,  is supposed to work by having those who want a bill sit down together and work out language that they can all live with.  They can do that in committee mark-ups, or on the floor of the House or Senate, or, as is often the case, far from C-SPAN and the press corps.

I'm glad that Republicans have recognized the value of negotiations, and I assume that they will henceforth cease attempting to smear the Democrats as the party of corrupt backroom deals.

(In which, obviously, "assume that they will" is meant to be read "assume that they won't").

(UPDATE: via Yglesias, see this Ryan Grim piece)

1 comment:

  1. I think more appropriately, it's exactly how the SENATE should work.
    For the House, negotiations in public in committee aren't all that uncommon or harmful. Or, at least, they used to be fine.
    But the Senate cannot possibly truly function as a debating society a la the 1830s any more.


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