Petulance

After the third cloture vote this afternoon, final passage of the health care bill is certain: it only takes 50 votes. Will the Republicans insist on the thirty-hour delay they’re entitled to, or act like grown-ups?

The Senate has now twice voted for cloture on health care reform; a third cloture vote comes this afternoon.  If Tom Coburn’s prayers are answered and Robert Byrd is too sick to vote, the Republicans might still be able to stop the bill from passing.  But assuming that doesn’t happen, final passage (final, that is, until the votes on the conference committee report) is assured, since it requires only 50 votes plus the Vice President.

So here’s the question for Senate Republicans:  once defeat is certain, are they going to insist on ruining Christmas Eve for the Senate staff with thirty more hours of meaningless debate, or are they going to let the final vote happen so people can go home?

My bet is that the temper tantrum continues.  But I’d love to be proven wrong.

Update No, I wasn’t wrong.  Vitter objected to moving it the vote to 6pm, and again objected to moving it to quarter past midnight.  Maybe he had a heavy date for this evening.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

10 thoughts on “Petulance”

  1. My hope is that they ruin it for the staffers — it's a small price to pay for showing their insufferable arrogance and their complete disregard for others. The GOP fundamentally thinks Democrats in power are illegitimate — it's the definition of illegitimate power for them, in fact. They are having little wet dreams right now about their horrible persecution at the hands of Democrats trying to give the poors some very-slightly-less-shabby health care options (just like Sarah's weird and totally made up "some students threatened to gang rape my daughter" in 'Going Rogue').

  2. Could you imagine if health care fails because Byrd gets sick? Is it possible that a Republican would have the decency to vote for cloture in his honor and to save the Senate from embarrassment?

  3. At your leisure, Mark, I wonder if you can write a post dealing with the issues around regulatory capture. This is something that libertarian types bring up regarding large pieces of legislation of the type we are dealing with here; they claim that government regulations of industry are turned to industry's advantage through the influences that industry can develop over the regulatory process. The increased stock price of Aetna and Cigna in recent days would suggest that there is something to this argument, but someone well-versed in policy issues could probably say something halfway intelligent about this.

  4. Is it possible that a Republican would have the decency to vote for cloture in his honor and to save the Senate from embarrassment?

    Only if McConnell is a mensch. Bad bet.

  5. Since this law, like any other law, can be repealed by a simple majority (modulo the filibuster problem) the "entrenchment" issue is entirely spurious. The bill puts a super-majority requirement on a Congressional veto of an administrative action, but nothing prevents a future Congress from changing that.

  6. It may be that the Republican caucus is less virtuous than its predecessors, but even if it weren't, some norms have obviously broken down – they were mostly deliberately destroyed -, & don't look to reemerge any time soon. When norms change, so should rules. And soon.

  7. It's not entirely spurious. Granted, entrenchment is unconstitutional, but they tried it anyway. Tells you something about them.

  8. K says:

    "It may be that the Republican caucus is less virtuous than its predecessors, but even if it weren’t, some norms have obviously broken down – they were mostly deliberately destroyed -, & don’t look to reemerge any time soon. When norms change, so should rules. And soon."

    Somebody made a comment that during the Bush II administration, many things were discovered to be merely customs, and floutable at will. At least by the GOP.

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