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Last Week?
Hype/Votes Part 2
The Galveston Daily News Mast Head Next Week?
Leadership means being engaged

Bill Sargent, Mark Mansius and John Gay are writing columns on important issues for today.


Learning the Difference
Between Hype and Votes

June 10, 2013

First, by way of background:

Conference Committees: When the House and Senate have passed similar but different bills, they call for a “conference” in which members from both chambers are represented.  In this committee they attempt to work out the differences in the two bills.  Then the “conferenced” bill is sent to both the chambers for final approval and then to the President.

Filibuster and Reconciliation:  In the Senate any member can filibuster by being recognized and then refusing to relinquish the floor.  Only when 60 senators vote to cut off debate can a filibuster be stopped.  The Senate rules are different when a budget is considered under the reconciliation procedure.  Debate is limited to 20 hours. Period! Amendments must be germane, and it only takes a simple majority to approve (51 votes, and the Democrats currently have 55 seats).

In May, Senator Cruz was attempting to block the appointment of conferees on the budget reconciliation bill because he wanted the Republicans to have a voice in the process.  His goal was to get agreement from the Democrats that sixty votes would be needed for passage, thus requiring the support of at least five Republicans.  In a speech on the Senate floor Cruz made an interesting statement:

Here is the dirty little secret” there are some Republicans who would like to cast a symbolic vote against raising the debt ceiling while allowing the Democrats to raise it with only 50 votes. “To some Republicans this would be the ideal outcome because they can go to their constituents and say they voted against raising the debt ceiling while still allowing it to go through.”   What Senator Cruz was describing is a practice we see all too often in Washington, telling half-truths and not being honest.

In last week’s column we talked about the House passage of a Continuing Resolution (CR) that fully funded Obamacare.  Shortly thereafter, the House cast a vote to repeal Obamacare.   Speaker Boehner explained that, even though the House had voted on similar legislation over thirty times before, he was holding the vote again “because new members had been asking for the opportunity to vote on repeal.”  

The vote to repeal Obamacare was symbolic because there is little chance that the Senate will even consider it.  Many of the Republicans who voted for the repeal also voted for funding it as part of the CR.   So why did they vote for fully funding the implementation, administration and enforcement of Obamacare one week, and then turn around and vote to repeal it?  Could the reason be the same thing that Ted Cruz talked about -- so they could go back home and tell their constituents that they voted to repeal the measure – even though they knew full well that their vote to do so had no effect?  So this begs the question, “Are our elected representatives being disingenuous?”  Where does the hype stop and the real meaning of votes start?  Whatever happened to telling the truth and letting the chips fall as they may?

Until Next Week...

Bill, Mark and John