First day of the work week in the House, and that means suspension bills. Eleven were scheduled, seven were dispensed with and four votes were postponed. Nothing terribly exciting to report on that front.
The Senate, per its agreement, considered and rejected all five of the precious Export-Import Bank bill amendments that Republicans just had to have in order to allow the motion to proceed to move forward. And guess what? They were all massively unpopular, some of them embarrassingly so, while the bill itself passed overwhelmingly. And even so, Republicans objected to moving to the bill quickly, and even threatened to filibuster and vote against cloture on the motion to proceed. Yet, interestingly enough, not a single one of the five amendments got 40 votes, which is what it would have taken (had every Senator voted on the cloture question) for Republicans to have enforced their filibuster threat. Hell, Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike LEE (R-UT) each offered an amendment, and the two couldn't even muster 20 votes between them. That's what we had to have votes on in order to get Republican agreement to allow a debate on a bill that ultimately passed unamended, by a vote of 78-20? What a bunch of #@%ing d*#ks.
Looking ahead to today:
Today's work in the House begins with another suspension bill. H.R. 5740, a bill to extend the National Flood Insurance Program.
After that, it's the House's own version of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization. Because why vote on the Senate version (which passed with 68 votes, 15 of them Republican) when you can vote on something new and horrible, which will also lead to a potential procedural nightmare in the Senate?
But the day's not over yet. Next up will be the new defense authorization bill.
That's right. Everybody should just get their own pointy stick, and stop depending on the Nanny Army to keep them safe.
Oh, and technically, the postponed amendment votes from yesterday are on the schedule, too.
The Senate has set up an interesting day for itself. Republicans are constantly complaining that the Senate hasn't considered a budget for the past few years. Of course, there's little point in doing so, since the House budgets coming from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI-01) have been so wholly unacceptable to the Democratic Senate (as a Democratic Senate's budget would presumably be likewise unacceptable in the Republican House) that no one anticipates being able to reach a passable compromise.
Anyway, today the Senate has agreed to allow the Republicans to bring their wackiest budget ideas to the floor (well, really, make motions to proceed to them) so that everyone can see the Senate still not adopt them. Four of the wacky ideas are the Republicans' own, and one is Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III's (R-AL) interpretive dance exposition, based on what he claims is President Obama's budget. This freak show goes forward, despite the fact that last August's deal, embodied in the Budget Control Act, already set binding spending caps for the FY2013 budget.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his Republican troops are exceedingly proud of themselves over this, believing they've scored an important procedural victory that proves a point critical to their arguments:
McConnell pointed out that procedurally the budget votes are allowed under the 1974 Budget act which allows any member to bring up a budget if the Budget Committee fails to report one. He said this is confirmation that Reid's argument that the top-line spending number in the August debt ceiling deal does not constitute a full "budget."I don't know that the parliamentarian gives a crap one way or the other that they're having these votes, since they're being held pursuant to a unanimous consent agreement. That being the case, the parliamentarian has nothing to say about whether or not it's the Budget Act of 1974 that's "allowing" these votes. The controlling authority is the unanimous consent agreement. Furthermore, it should be pointed out that the agreement allows for six hours of debate on the various motions, which is an unusual thing, since the Budget Act of 1974 makes motions to proceed to budget resolutions non-debatable. So if there's going to be a debate, and an extensive one at that, maybe these aren't real budget resolutions after all. But hey, if the parliamentarian says anything about that, I expect Republicans to tell her (yes, her) to take a flying leap.
"I know that our friends on the other side of the aisle said that because of the Budget Control Act we already have a budget, but the parliamentarian does not view that as the case or we wouldn?t be allowed to have these votes that will occur tomorrow," he said.
McConnell's argument is that individual Senators wouldn't normally be allowed to propose their own budgets, unless the Senate Budget committee had failed to propose one. But Senators are always allowed to propose whatever they want. It's just that their budget proposals aren't entitled to the special protections outlined in the Budget Act of 1974 unless the committee fails. And what are those special protections? Well, for one thing, the motions to proceed to those budgets are made non-debatable. Yet here they are, debating them. So you be the parliamentarian here. You tell me if you think McConnell's right.
Today's floor and committee schedules appear below the fold.