Monday, September 23, 2013

Convoluted Legislative Weirdness Won't Matter

I do recommend everyone read Sarah Binder's explainer about the parliamentary situation with the CR and defunding.

But I do want to add my two cents to one aspect of this that's had some people talking. I don't think it will make any real difference at all that technically the defunders are asking Republican Senators to filibuster a bill which, at that point, will actually contain the provision they want. Nor, come to think of it, should it.

On whether it will make a difference: c'mon. The main audience for this whole thing is the Fox News/Limbaugh conservative marketplace. If they like the product, they aren't going to undercut it by highlighting a bit of procedural mumbo-jumbo that sounds bad. They will not report it. It won't happen, for that audience. For the liberal audience -- yup, they'll ridicule Ted Cruz over it. But if it wasn't that, it would be something else. It doesn't matter. So that leaves the "neutral" press, and, yes, they might be somewhat influence by the convoluted legislative weirdness involved, but that's going to be one factor, and probably a small one, in one type of reporting. Republicans would be nuts to let that affect their votes.

And it shouldn't. Look, it's funny that Republicans have to filibuster their own bill if they want it to pass, but it is also the dead honest truth. It "looks" bad? Only if people are watching -- and given how obscure the procedural stuff here is, only if people are watching and it gets explained to them that way. Explain it a different way, and it's perfectly normal and natural. Which, really, it is.

I mean...shutting down the government as a blackmail tactic isn't quite normal and natural, and doing it for a goal which everyone agrees isn't going to be achieved is definitely not normal and natural. One could even argue that filibusters are not normal and natural, or at least the filibuster-everything plan that Republicans took up in January of 2009. And neutral analysis should absolutely point those things out. But the specific sequence of votes and the parliamentary situation, and especially this particular oddity? Nah.

As I said, though, I don't think it's actually going to matter at all. Oh, I do expect some Senators to use it as an excuse if they choose to vote for cloture. But it's an excuse, not a reason.


  1. So, just what is the process foreseen in filibustering a bill that they supposedly want to pass? I assume they don't want to be seen as killing it. Are they assuming that the fiilbuster will fail, but the effort will win them brownie points? Is the idea to delay it so long that there won't be time to revise it?

    1. The goal is hoping that Reid will cave and make it so that Republicans are allowed to filibuster amendments. That way they could filibuster the inevitable amendment to take out the defund Obamacare language.

  2. Legislative weirdness does matter in giving cover to less-insane Republicans. Cornyn can argue to primary voters that he voted to defund Obamacare and voted against a CR that funded Obamacare, and anyone arguing otherwise has to make a convoluted argument to explain their position.

    1. I understand that's the logic, but I strongly disagree with it.

      Cornyn can say that all he wants, but if Cruz and other True Conservatives claim otherwise, that's going to make a strong primary election ad. It won't go into the details; it'll just say that Cruz joined establishment Republicans in selling out conservatives when they key vote came.

      If Cornyn wants to spend the primary season arguing against Cruz and the rest of them on a technicality...well, I'm sure Cruz would be happy to have that fight.

    2. We may get a chance to measure this when the primaries roll around next year.


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