Friday, January 19, 2018

Removing the senate

This is Joseph

I normally have great respect for Ezra Klein.  His stuff is awesome and I always click on his articles.  Which is why this article annoyed me

Consider the proposal:
Bennet has introduced the “Shutdown Accountability Resolution.” The effect would be that from the moment a shutdown starts, most members of the Senate would be forced to remain in the Senate chambers from 8 am to midnight, all day, every day. No weekends. No fundraisers. No trips home to see their families or constituents.
The proposal would not, itself, resolve the DREAMer debate that’s driving the federal government toward shutdown. But it would give the senators involved a powerful incentive to find a solution. This is a body that typically comes together in Washington a few days a week for only part of the year. The last thing they want is to be tied to the Senate floor day after day, for weeks or months on end.
Here’s how the resolution works: It would change Senate rules so that following a lapse in funding for one or more federal agencies — the technical meaning of a shutdown — the Senate must convene at 8 am the next day. Upon convening, the presiding officer forces a quorum call to see who’s present.
In the absence of a quorum, the Senate moves to a roll call vote demanding the attendance of absent senators. If a sufficient number are absent, the sergeant at arms will be asked to arrest them. This process is repeated every hour between 8 am and midnight until a bill passes reopening the government.
The result is that senators need to remain on or near the Senate floor for the duration of the shutdown. They can’t go wait it out in the comfort of their own home.
Perhaps they omitted the piece where the house of representatives is also penalized.  But a budget needs to be passed by both the House and the Senate, right?  So how does this prevent the strategy of the House passing a budget and then leaving for six weeks?  They aren't required to be present 8 am to midnight every day.  I read the whole thing and it seems awfully specific to senators.

So if the house passes something then the senate can rubber stamp it, or being sitting around until they do.  House members can be on the golf course. 

After all, if the senators make an agreement on a budget, doesn't it have to pass the house as well? 

It also hides the real story, which is that budget reconciliation would let a budget be passed with 50 votes.  There was a decision here to put a priority on tax cuts without working out a budget at the same time.  The idea that they would need to compromise now was baked into using the previous strategy for a tax cut.  But it doesn't help to then make the senate a hostage of the house. 

Similarily, what happens if a president vetoes the budget?  Punishing senators for other people's actions seems to result in a stable outcome of making the senate impotent.  Now this could be the goal, but that seems like a different conversation (should there be a senate). 

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