On June 6th, the Senate opened debate on the Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011, a bill to reauthorize and expand a long-running and consistently successful job-creation agency, the Economic Development Administration. The EDA has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support, and this reauthorization bill was introduced with bipartisan co-sponsorship and passed out of committee without any dissent from Republicans. But after two weeks of debate, the bill was unanimously filibustered by Republicans and has been pulled from the floor.Read Full Article
As you may have noticed in my preview post this morning, the Republican leadership is doing something few House leaders ever do -- opening up one of their bills to several floor amendments from the minority party and none from their own party. The Rules Committee last week decided that one of the Republicans' oil drilling bills, the H.R.1229 (a.k.a. the "Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act") would be debated under a structured rule that makes in order eleven Democratic amendments for votes and ten minutes of debate each. Below is a rundown of the amendments that will be voted on -- I'll update with vote results when they are posted:Read Full Article
The open amendment process that House Republicans used to create their 2011 budget bill had its benefits. For example, it allowed a bipartisan group of rank-and-file Reps. to stand against party leadership and strip out funding for a costly alternative engine program for a fighter jet that the Air Force itself says is unnecessary. On the other hand, it gave members who were looking to fulfill promises to powerful political interests a platform to do so. The policy riders that were added to the budget bill are keeping Congress bogged down with stopgap funding to keep the government from shutting down and preventing them from engaging in serious negotiations over funding levels for the rest of the year. That in turns means there's no time to work on other important issues, like job creation and long-term debt reduction.Read Full Article
House Republicans have now lost three straight attempts to pass bills in the past 24 hours.
As you've probably heard already, last night the Republican leadership was caught off guard when 26 of their rank-an-file members joined the Democrats to reject an attempt to extend the PATRIOT Act provisions under an expedited procedure, known as "suspension of the rules," that limits debate and does not allow amendments to be offered. Before that vote, the leadership was forced to pull another bill from the floor that would have provided job training to people who have lost their jobs due to trade issues when it became clear that they didn't have the votes to pass it under the same procedure they tried for the PATRIOT Act bill.Read Full Article
The Democrats' cave-in on reforming the filibuster in the Senate appears to be complete. According to reports, Senate Rules Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Schumer [D, NY] is bringing a proposal to his fellow Democrats this afternoon that would do nothing to address the recent explosion in senators using procedural rules to kill bills just by threatening to filibuster. It apparently includes three minor changes in the Senate rules and is accompanied by a gentlemen's agreement to start behaving more reasonably, sometimes. Here's what's in it.Read Full Article
Senators Tom Udall [D, NM], Tom Harkin [D, IA] and Jeff Merkley [D, OR] have released an official outline of their filibuster reform package. As expected, it would force senators who want to filibuster to actually stand up and delay things instead of being able to filibuster by just threatening to delay. It would also eliminate filibusters on simply beginning debate of a bill, ensure that both parties can submit amendments and make it impossible for senators to put holds on bills without revealing their identity.
Check out the outline below, and let us know what you think of this reform package in the comments.Read Full Article
The Rules Committee meeting is still going on. But the biggest decision of the day has already been made. The Democrats have decided not to use the "self-executing rule," otherwise known as "deem and pass," and will instead hold a separate vote on passing the Senate health care bill.
This is a strong sign that Speaker Nancy Pelosi [D, CA-8] has more than enough votes for passing the health care bill on Sunday.Read Full Article
The House Committee on Rules meets at 10 a.m. ET today to craft the "rule" that will govern the big health care vote that is scheduled for Sunday in the House. The biggest question they'll have to tackle will be whether to use a "self-executing rule," which would allow the Democrats to deem the health care bill to be passed in the House without requiring them to take a stand-alone vote on it.
Here's your update on what to watch on Saurday as health care reform moves closer to the finish line.Read Full Article