Things that Make Me Laugh: House Republicans Edition

130920_boehner_gop_obamacare_msm_328So the House Republicans passed a continuing resolution to keep the government open but defund PPACA (ObamaCare). They know it can’t conceivably pass in the Senate, and assuming they can count–which grows ever more doubtful–they know they’re not even within sniffing distance of a veto-proof majority in their own chamber.

And yet they celebrated, as though they had actually accomplished something.

“We had a victory today for the American people, and frankly, we also had a victory for common sense,” Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said, surrounded by more than 200 cheering lawmakers at a news conference at the Capitol.

Do any of them understand how our government actually works?

Fortunately Sarah Binder, and she explains how the Senate can take up the House Bill, strip it of the defund provision, and pass a “clean” CR (still no real budget, though) while protecting Obamacare.

Democrats have to take a few steps to set up a vote to strip the ObamaCare defunding provision from the bill. Reid/Democrats will probably offer an amendment, in the form of a “motion to strike” the defunding language… Reid might also “fill the amendment tree,” meaning that he would fill up all of the remaining amendment slots with inconsequential amendments to block GOP senators from attempting to amend the CR themselves.

With the motion to strike defunding pending, Reid would file cloture on the BILL. Keep in mind that the BILL is still the House bill (CR+defund). Any GOP effort to block cloture again puts the GOP on the wrong side: Republicans would be blocking a CR that defunds ObamaCare. Assuming Reid again gets 60 vote for cloture, that brings the Senate to its customary 30 hours of “post-cloture” consideration time (including time spent on debate, voting, and so on.)

This is the most important part, because this is when the Senate would vote on the motion to strike. The 30-hour time cap post-cloture means that by definition there cannot be a filibuster of any of the votes that are attempted during the 30-hour period. In other words, there would be no need for Reid to file cloture on the amendment: Any effort to talk the amendment to death would have to end when the 30 hours were exhausted. Under Senate rules, amendments only require a simple majority to pass, allowing Democrats alone to strike the defunding language from the bill. So, the motion to strike would be brought up for a vote, it would pass by simple majority, and then after 30 hours are over (or earlier if Cruz and others tire of the fight), the Senate would move to the final up-or down, simple majority vote on the now-amended bill (stripped clean of the defunding provision). Ball then is in Boehner’s court.

I don’t see any way in which the House GOP can win this fight. They’ve made their principled stance and taken their best shot at forcing the Senate’s hand, but they can’t actually win. The only thing they can do is force a government shutdown, and that’s a loss for them, too.

But will the Tea Partiers ever recognize that? And if they do, will they care?

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About J@m3z Aitch

J@m3z Aitch is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.
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11 Responses to Things that Make Me Laugh: House Republicans Edition

  1. Dr X says:

    I’m not expecting any great change. In my entirely amateur political opinion, the vengeful tone and zeal of the Tea Party resembles revanchist movements that die hard.

  2. trumwill says:

    For what it’s worth, I am seeing more pushback from conservatives than I have seen in a long, long time. A lot of notables who have either been with the die-hards, or have been reluctant to criticize, are pretty angry at Cruz right now.

  3. J@m3z Aitch says:

    Most of the noise against Cruz, though, seems to be coming from the Tea Partiers who are angry that he’s pre-emptively conceded defeat in the Senate.

    I’m not sure what they actually expect him to do, though. Filibuster the GOP’s own bill? The crazy thing about these folks is that they seem to think a shutdown will hold Obama’s feet to the fire, that it will actually work to their benefit. They’ve learned nothing from the mid ’90s shutdowns, nothing from the failed attempt to hold emergency relief hostage to budget negotiations. And they don’t seem to realize that, not having to run for-reelection again, and already being stuck with a House that won’t cooperate with them, Obama’s got absolutely nothing to lose by letting Congress shut down the government–it just once again allows him to play “only adult in the room.” But I think these Tea Partiers are living in such a convincing world of their own making that they actually think he’ll have to back down, or that he’s weak enough that he’ll do so even if he doesn’t have to. Maybe they’re counting on him to see the role of “only adult in the room” as demanding that he compromise to their satisfaction. But whatever one thinks about their position on Obamacare itself, I can’t see any way around concluding that their strategic morons.

  4. Troublesome Frog says:

    For the past few elections, I’ve thought, “This one will be the *last* election where the Republican candidates are kookier than the last time around.” Every election, I have been wrong. We could finally be at that point where the runaway fuel truck full of crazy finally hits a tree and the healing process can begin, but I’m not betting on it just yet. I can’t imagine how it could go further, but I’ve said that before.

    My only hope is that the consequences of a shutdown are swift and painful enough for them that this doesn’t run into the debt ceiling timeline. Aren’t the Republicans the ones who are supposed to be concerned about policy uncertainty and the time traveling business whammy problem?

  5. Dr X says:

    @James

    “But whatever one thinks about their position on Obamacare itself, I can’t see any way around concluding that their strategic morons.

    Well there is a point at which ideology turns people into morons. Not that I reject ideologies in and of themselves; there is value in principles applied and systematic ways of thinking, but when they get to the point of being extremely tribal–and tribal on a warfare footing–reason along with decency seems to go out the window.

    I know many factors were surely in play in the evolution of our current political climate, but I often wonder how much 9-11 animated a broader tribal warfare mentality that, to some extent, fuels the furor of today’s Tea Party. Again, I know there are other factors, but this is something I ponder. Violent attacks have powerful effects on psyche, and people don’t just attack the external enemy. There are internal enemies to be purged. As GWB said, you’re either with us or against us, a statement that is self-evidently moronic upon even minimal reflection.

  6. Dr X says:

    Troublesome Frog;

    For the past few elections, I’ve thought, “This one will be the *last* election where the Republican candidates are kookier than the last time around.” Every election, I have been wrong.

    When you think of the clown car that was the Republican primary debates–that Michele Bachmann was taken seriously, even for a second–and then realize that they’re doing it again, that they think they lost because Romney wasn’t enough like the challengers he defeated, well it makes me really yearn for the days when I considered Republicans to be the sober party.

  7. Troublesome Frog says:

    …it makes me really yearn for the days when I considered Republicans to be the sober party.

    Something that always struck me about that part of the debate is how much time is spent litigating which party freed the slaves or supported civil rights vs which party started which war decades ago. I’m sure there was a time when the Republicans were all about responsible government, but as somebody in his 30s, I certainly don’t remember it. That might be one reason for the Republican party’s unpopularity among my generation. “We’re the party of fiscal responsibility” might ring true to some people who can remember those days. It just sounds kooky and un-self-aware to us.

    It’s a lot like marketing banks. The commercials all depict warm fuzzy branch managers helping people achieve their dreams. That may hit home with people of a certain age who remember those times, but my generation knows banks only as machines that move money around and charge fees. They’re run by a mixture of computers and sociopaths, and branch managers are just there to execute corporate policy. The notion that one could be warm and fuzzy and responsive to my personal needs is just bizarre on a conceptual level.

  8. trumwill says:

    James, that’s not really the pushback I am referring to. I’m talking about David Freddoso:

    This plan is right out of Alice in Wonderland. You need to prevent a vote on defunding Obamacare in order to defund Obamacare.

    Okay, so it isn’t that simple. The idea is to prevent a vote until the Democrats finally realize we mean business and they’re not getting their way, no matter what. This means we don’t pass a spending bill. And this is where we see that the arguments that “no one is trying to shut down the government,” and “we want to fund the government except for Obamacare,” have been inaccurate — perhaps even disingenuous. The whole point of this strategy, as I noted this summer, is to shut the government down for months. Eventually, Democrats are supposed to get so demoralized by this that they will voluntarily defund Obamacare and leave D.C. with their tails between their legs. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even dissolve the Democratic Party permanently and all liberals will agree to become conservatives.

    Avik Roy has more (specifically pertaining to the anger among Republicans).

    One of the more interesting aspects of this (partly because “Republicans acting crazy!” isn’t interesting anymore) is the rift that appears to be reaching the surface. Cruz may get his strategy, but it looks like patience with this tact is not infinite.

  9. J@m3z Aitch says:

    Will–So Cruz is now the target for both sides of his party? Happy days for him!

    T-Frog–I have accounts at both a credit union and a bank. At each I get treated well.

  10. I don’t see any way in which the House GOP can win this fight.

    Perhaps not, but there are lots of ways that Democrats can lose it — some, perhaps, that haven’t bee tried recently.

  11. it makes me really yearn for the days when I considered Republicans to be the sober party.

    Look at the date on this: http://kfmonkey.blogspot.com/2004/12/i-miss-republicans.html

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