Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Correspondence

Alan writes:
"Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings..."

That may be so, but that doesn't make it right.

And quotes from the Christian Science Monitor:
"The procedure of one vote to both adopt a resolution and concur on a Senate amendment to a bill has been around since 1933. In March 1996, Republicans used a similar procedure to pass a controversial measure to raise the national debt limit"

There is a sizable difference in raising the debt ceiling, which arguably had to be done to keep the government functioning, and passing a bill that has been the primary legislative discussion and the focus of most of the administration's attention for a year. But more importantly, if you've done a full court press on something, and then have to resort to trickery (and you incidentally call yourself Democrats but don't actually vote on things), well, you have a huge problem.

Lastly, and regardless of your opinion on this issue, mine is that this is downright underhanded and anti-Democratic and the Democrats will lose my vote forever if they pull this shit.

BTW, on the filibuster, I'm glad the Republicans didn't get rid of it and I hope the Dems don't either, but that wouldn't provoke as much ire from me as trying to shield yourself from the consequences of a vote.

3 comments:

Alan Howe said...

There is very little difference between combining two pieces of legislation and voting on them both at the same time and the procedure the House is contemplating which, like the former approach, passes two pieces of legislation at once. It is quite similar to attaching an amendment to the Senate bill and passing both. Republican votes against the reconciliation bill will also be votes against the Senate bill. I am sure they will not characterize their votes in any other manner.

I am not a bit confused about your assertion that Democrats can forever write off your vote for using a process that Republicans have used repeatedly. But I think you protest too much. Given a choice between Sarah Palin and an intelligent Democrat, you will vote for Palin? You'll refuse to vote for a Democratic primary challenger who criticizes this procedure or for a Democrat that challenges a Republican incumbent who has used it?

The Constitution is wrong, or the Democrats are wrong to follow it? They are wrong to misuse it, I expect is your answer, but I think you should combine that with irritation over the Republicans demanding cloture votes on all Senate bills. That truly is unprecedented, unlike the Democratic actions. Seventy-seven years of use by both parties makes "trickery" the wrong word.

FLG said...

"Given a choice between Sarah Palin and an intelligent Democrat, you will vote for Palin?"

Third party.

"They are wrong to misuse it, I expect is your answer"

Correct.

"Seventy-seven years of use by both parties makes "trickery" the wrong word."

Listen, there are uses and there are uses. If you use some legislative trick to expedite a nearly unanimous bill, then ok. Democratic will isn't subverted. But when you are using a legislative maneuver to make a change as sweeping as health care reform and, even more importantly, one that you've been working on day and night for a year, then it's just wrong.

My point here is this:
The Democrats have made this The Piece of Legislation of the last year. Indeed, many of them, including the Speaker, say this might be the most important piece of legislation in decades. Well, if that's the case, then you really ought to pass it through the normal procedures. If you can't, and you decide to resort to parliamentary shenanigans, then perhaps there is a problem with the bill.

I'm not naive enough to think that every member of congress will vote on the merits of the bill. Some will have serious ideological issues with it. Some will have parochial concerns and need to be bought off. But if you can't get it through the normal process, then you really ought to stop and think about whether what you are doing is the right thing. Whether it is the will of the people? Especially if you call yourself Democrats.

Changing something as important and sweeping as health care, not just on a partisan vote, but through procedural gimmicks is politically stupid and also relies on an end justifies the means argument that I can't abide.

The fact of the matter is this:
The bill is not popular. It's split 50-50 among the public at best. They are resorting to this gimmick to give house members cover for their vote.

"Dear constituent, I didn't vote for that part of the health care bill you don't like. I only voted to pass these amendments over here."

Alan Howe said...

You argue that Democrats have a greater responsibility to defer to the people than Republicans. That does seem to be the practice. Republicans are, with the filibuster especially, resisting majority rule. Unfortunately the alternative is minority rule--an outrage.

Again, both the House and Senate have passed Health Care reform bills with majority votes, and both chambers will hold majority votes to reconcile the differences between the bills--all in accordance with the chambers' rules.

Your assertion, shared by others in the minority, that the Democrats should abide by an ill-defined higher standard rather than work within the rules, is arbitrary and in the event, hypocritical.

 
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.