Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘legislative hardball

Learn to Negotiate the Harry Reid Way

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If they pull a knife, we’ll pull an agreement to never use a gun no matter what:

A few moments ago, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell took to the floor of the Senate to announce an agreement on rules reform. But the meat of the agreement was not on which rules will be reformed. It was on the process by which rules can be reformed: Reid and McConnell agreed that the rules cannot — or at least should not — be changed by majority vote. 

“As part of this compromise,” Reid said, “we’ve agreed that I won’t force a majority vote to fundamentally change the Senate — that is the so-called ‘constitutional option’ — and he [McConnell] won’t in the future.” In other words, Reid and McConnell have agreed that the Senate’s rules will not be decided by a 51-vote majority. That was what the constitutional option was about, and that’s what Reid explicitly rejected in his speech. “Both McConnell and Reid feared what would happen if they were in the minority,” explains a Reid aide.

This agreement is merely a handshake, of course. Either Reid or McConnell could turn around and change the rules with 51-votes at some future date. But note the tone Reid is taking: It’s not that he’d prefer not to use the constitutional option at some future date, or that he won’t do so as long as the Republicans don’t abuse the rules. It’s that he simply won’t. The long-term effort to reform the filibuster didn’t take an incremental step forward today. The minority is not on notice that further abuse could lead to more significant reforms. Rather, Reid and the Democrats agreed that the only way to free the Senate from needing a supermajority to get anything done is to muster an even larger supermajority to change the rules. That is to say, both parties have codified the supermajority requirement.

With the House now in Republican hands, ending or amending the filibuster is mostly just a theoretical concern anyway. (Anything that can get through Boehner’s caucus and past Obama’s veto pen can almost certainly get 60 votes.) I guess we should be happy Reid didn’t give away more.

Written by gerrycanavan

January 27, 2011 at 2:17 pm


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* News that a Mississippi high school has canceled prom rather than allow a lesbian couple to attend has caused a “lesbian prom pictures” meme to ripple across the Internets.

* Inside Higher Ed has an article concerning (another) recent spate of suicides at Cornell.

* Saudi Arabia may not worry about Peak Oil, but they’re definitely nervous about Peak Demand.

* If David Brooks had a point, he might have a point. More from Taibbi and Chait.

* More Congressional procedure! Just because “deem and pass” happens all the time doesn’t mean it’s not tyranny when Nancy Pelosi does it. Ezra Klein is right when he says we should simplify Congressional procedure, but I think our friends in the GOP would be the first to tell us we can’t just unilaterally disarm.

* Avatar will be rereleased with an additional forty minutes à la Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, bringing its total running time to three days.

* But what the world needs most, of course, is another Battlestar Galactica sequel. I’ve fallen off watching Caprica, but from what I hear it’s at least good enough to Netflix—but I’m really not sure what’s left for a third series, except (perhaps) something pre-apocalpytic set on contemporary Earth using the BSG mythology as its starting point. Still, and it’s just a crazy idea: why not something new?

Saturday Night

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* The House vote on the Senate bill should be this week, with the final reconciliation markup beginning on Monday. I consider myself fascinated by the self-executing legislative trick the Democrats may use to “consider the Senate bill passed” without actually having to take a vote on it.

More on SAFRA, the student loan reform package that may get passed alongside health care.

* Here’s Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow on the campaign to convince people, contrary to the facts, that everyone killed the public option.

* More from Chris Hayes, whose “The Breakdown” podcast is now a weekly listen, in Time: In the past decade, nearly every pillar institution in American society — whether it’s General Motors, Congress, Wall Street, Major League Baseball, the Catholic Church or the mainstream media — has revealed itself to be corrupt, incompetent or both. And at the root of these failures are the people who run these institutions, the bright and industrious minds who occupy the commanding heights of our meritocratic order. In exchange for their power, status and remuneration, they are supposed to make sure everything operates smoothly. But after a cascade of scandals and catastrophes, that implicit social contract lies in ruins, replaced by mass skepticism, contempt and disillusionment…

* Howell Raines: One question has tugged at my professional conscience throughout the year-long congressional debate over health-care reform, and it has nothing to do with the public option, portability or medical malpractice. It is this: Why haven’t America’s old-school news organizations blown the whistle on Roger Ailes, chief of Fox News, for using the network to conduct a propaganda campaign against the Obama administration—a campaign without precedent in our modern political history? More on this at Crooks & Liars.

* And “a debacle for public education”: Steve Benen has your full report on history education, Texas-style.

* McCarthyism: History lessons must tell students that Joe McCarthy’s suspicions were later “confirmed.”

All right, that’s it, I give up.

The Great Undoing – 2

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A little-known provision in the Congressional Review Act of 1996 will allow the Democratic Congress to painlessly undo any and all Bush regulations from the last six months of his presidency, including those that have already taken effect—something the White House’s strategy of last-minute malfeasance seems to have failed to take into account. The news just keeps getting better. Via MeFi.