Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How the Senate Deal is Working

The Senate today is confirming all the NLRB nominees. That's a big deal, substantively and with regard to procedure. It means that Republicans stayed with the nuclear-avoiding deal through the original seven nominees that Harry Reid was attempting to get through -- given, that is, that Barack Obama was willing to substitute two new NLRB nominees of his choice.

A little analysis.

Through the first four closely contested cloture votes -- Cordray for CFPB Perez for Labor, McCarthy for EPA, and Hirozawa for NLRB...

Four Republicans voted for cloture all four times: Collins, Corker, McCain, and Murkowski.

Three Republicans voted for cloture three times: Alexander, Flake, and Graham.

Five Republicans, Ayotte, Wicker, Isakson, Portman, and Kirk, voted for cloture twice.

And another nine Republicans voted for cloture a single time.

In those closest vote, Perez for Labor, Alexander (3 times) and Kirk (twice) voted with the solid four to make it 60-40.

Those are the cloture votes. The confirmation votes were generally close; Hirozawa and Perez were party-line votes.

So what seems to be the case is that Republicans are going to tag-team to make sure that they get at least six votes for cloture on all (most?) nominations, with four of them perhaps on board for every vote, and the others rotating through.

Here's what I don't understand. Through the Hirozawa cloture vote, I have 21 Republicans voting for cloture on at least one of these nominees. That's not quite half, but it's close. It sure seems to me that those Republicans are being victimized by the other half of the GOP conference. Remember, there's no need to have a cloture vote at all -- except if either the minority forces it by filibuster, or the majority insists on it, either for traffic management purposes or because they just want the vote. I'm assuming that Reid would not be holding extraneous cloture votes under the deal, so it's Republicans who are forcing these votes.

Granted, it's possible that Wicker, Cochran, Chambliss, and the rest just want an opportunity to differentiate themselves from Cruz, Paul, and Lee. I'd be pretty surprised if that's the case.

I'll point out, for whatever it's worth: 55 Democrats (all except Levin) and the 21 Republicans who have supported cloture at least once on these nominees add up to 76, which is more than enough to implement "by the rules" Senate reform and reduce the number needed for cloture on executive branch nominations to a simple majority, thereby freeing everyone to vote how they want.


  1. Sens. McCain, Collins, and Murkowski have reputations for independence already, so this vote probably won't adversely affect them. None are facing the voters next year. Corker is from the Northeast; this could help him as well.

    Some of these people really need to start differentiating themselves from the Republican Party. Sens. Kirk, Porter and Ayotte are good examples. I think that blue state Republicans have an uphill climb in 2016.

  2. Oops, my bad. Corker is from Tennessee. He's occasionally reasonable; my mistake.

  3. So the New Jersey guy isn't taking one for the team? He's never going to be running for office again, why not do the rest of his caucus a solid and save everyone from having to take those tough votes. Same for Chambliss and Johanns, who are retiring.

  4. Corker, by the way, has been very vocal in opposing Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC 7) for FHFA Director. I think Watt will be successfully filibustered on the grounds that he is not a mortgage or housing expert, and that is what is needed to oversee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. So the deal to avoid the nuclear option will likely result in most, but not all, executive branch appointments getting through. The difference about FHFA Director is that the Acting FHFA Director, Ed DeMarco, is a career civil servant with a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Maryland, who is a mortgage expert, and who is highly regarded by most mortgage market professionals.


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