Thursday, April 11, 2013

Gun Tea Leaves

The big news late this morning is that the Senate had no real trouble getting to the gun bill, voting 68-31 for cloture on the motion to proceed to the bill -- two Democrats defected and voted against cloture, but a whopping 16 Republicans defected and supported cloture.

So they're on the bill.

Which hardly means the bill will pass, or beat back future filibusters. The Manchin-Toomey compromise needs to be adopted as an amendment; that's going to need 60 votes, and is apparently the first thing they're going to work on. Then Republicans may attempt poison pill amendments that would, if they pass, lead mainstream Democrats to abandon the bill. It's also possible that liberals could attempt to attach amendments that, if they pass, might make the overall bill too strong for moderates from both parties to support it.

And don't think that just because Senators were reluctant to filibuster the motion to proceed -- to keep the Senate from working on the bill at all -- that they'll be equally reluctant to block a vote on final passage.

And I said earlier, this bill doesn't die by Senate filibuster. Oh, that might be the immediate cause of death. But it really doesn't matter. Any bill that can't win the support of 60 Senators is absolutely, positively, dead in the House of Representatives.

The thing to remember is that the House is almost certainly incapable of legislating. The talk out there about the House producing its own bill...I suppose anything is possible, but it's almost certainly not going to happen on guns (and almost certainly won't happen on immigration, either). Realistically, if we're to get a bill, it almost certain is the Boehner Rule way (as Jonathan Chait noted in an excellent item this morning): it passes the Senate with a large supermajority, and then passes the House with mostly Democratic votes because Republicans believe the damage to them is larger if they refuse a vote.

To the extent we learned anything from the defeated filibuster on the motion to proceed, then, we learned that there may be at least some hesitation among Republicans about blocking a vote -- which is what Barack Obama has been hitting on from the State of the Union on.

But again: we still don't know that an intact bill can make it to the final vote stage in the Senate; we still don't know if an intact bill can defeat a filibuster to get to that final vote; we don't know whether the House would take up a bill if it did pass the Senate; and we don't even know whether a bill could get a majority in the House even if they did take it up. So there's a long, long, ways to go. What happened today was the easiest part.


  1. I still think that the Boehner Rule way isn't open. Republicans aren't voting against common sense because their constituents oppose it; it's because their wingnuts get REALLY incensed on this.

    Intense opposition doesn't win on the floor. It wins behind closed doors. This will die in a similar way to how the post-Colubmine reforms died. Those died with the GOP leadership appointing the NRA's water carriers to the conference committee, which then NEVER met. All the Republicans who were in slightly competitive districts got to vote to close the gun show loophole, but the NRA got its victory. Meaningful gun control will die in conference. Or in budgetary riders. Or by somehow just never getting scheduled for a final vote.

    1. And now, apparently, Boehner is being "warned" not to break the Hastert Rule (which, by denying a rule, is killing legislation without a floor vote).....

      Whether he will or not is an open question....but I still haven't seen much to persuade me I'm wrong on this.

    2. He's being "warned" by Braun and Steve Stockman -- they love it when he violates the Hastert rule! Works perfectly for them!

      I'll believe it's a thing when mainstream conservatives (1) complain about it and (2) actually try to do something about it.

    3. Works perfectly well for them, unless they actually care about policy. (or care about those who do)

      I think that giving the tea party nutters a free pass is unfair. Some of them actually believe the crap that comes out of their mouths.

  2. I disagree, Matt. I think that is true as long as we're talking "guns are a constitutional right." As soon as we start talking "soft on crime and terrorism," the intense opposition sits back down. This issue is strongly subject to framing, and it depends on who's putting up more money.

    My own personal opinion is that the NRA is protecting the market share of a small group of weapons makers, and that that amount of money is not enough for the rest of the Republican party to commit hari-kari over. There's no way Sen. Toomey would be taking the lead on this if it was.


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