God I hate politics sometimes …

Politics, US Politics

Kevin Drum explains an arcane-seeming bit of “parliamentary minutiae” driving business in Congress, which can be used to bury a bill at the last moment. The trick is to use a rule, which allows the minority party one last motion before the final vote on a bill, to send it back to committee – where “given the fact that it’s already probably been in committee for months, and the calendar is packed full of other stuff, [..] the bill dies”.

So here’s what happens with these recommittals. The minority party proposes an amendment that will make great campaign fodder. On the reauthorization of the AmeriCorps volunteer program last March, for example, Randy Kuhl proposed language requiring criminal background checks on prospective volunteers. If he were genuinely concerned with background checks, he would have accepted “forthwith” language and allowed a vote on his amendment, which probably would have passed. But he didn’t. He insisted on “promptly” language instead. Why? Because he knew that the majority would resist delaying the bill by sending it back to committee, and that’s what he was really after. He wanted to force them to vote down his motion so that Republicans could all go home and claim that Democrats had voted against background checks on AmeriCorps volunteers.

As they say, read the whole thing … and expect a lot of this kind of obstruction from the Republican opposition in the next couple of years.

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