Thursday, June 20, 2013

Anarchy in Congress as House Republicans Seem Unable to Govern

The House Republican conference simply cannot be led.

That reality hit home — hard — this afternoon when the House failed to pass a farm bill. The bill failed 234-195 with 62 Republicans voting against it and just 24 Democrats voting for it.

Republican insiders immediately tried to foist the blame on Democrats, insisting that 40 “yea” votes had been promised and the vote count was dependent on those votes being delivered.  (Worth noting: The administration made clear in a statement Monday that President Obama would veto the bill if it passed, a declaration that undoubtedly had a chilling effect on Democratic votes in favor of the legislation.)

But, here’s the simple political reality: The majority party in the House should never — repeat NEVER — lose floor votes on major (or, really, minor) pieces of legislation. Republicans, literally, write the rules governing the debate — and, as the majority, must ensure that even in the worst case scenario that they can get the “yeas” they need from their own side. That didn’t happen as a number of conservatives revolted, believing that the cuts proposed in the bill were insufficient.
Read the rest here.


lannes said...

Chris Matthews must be ghost-writing your blog. I'm astonished that you can be such a liberal and still follow the "straight and narrow" path prescribed by our Lord. oblewgn

Greg DeLassus said...

Honestly, anything that stands in the way of passing a farm bill is a good thing in my book. There are few appropriations that are less transparently a boondoggle than the farm bill, so if the Republicans managed to kill it by loading it with poison pills, I tip my hat to them.

Incidentally, I regard myself as fairly left-of-center in the American political spectrum, but I have to say that work requirements for food stamps strike me as a good idea. Most people prefer to work to earn their bread. Those on food stamps would, by and large, prefer to work than to receive a hand-out. It is an acknowledgment of their human dignity to make food stamps a reward for work, rather than a sort of government almsgiving.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

I don't disagree with criticisms of the bill. I disagree with the way this played out. It makes the GOP look like the Keystone Cops in suits. And it seriously calls into question whether or not there is anyone in charge in the HofR.

You have backbenchers in the majority party thumbing their noses very publicly at the Speaker and even some committee chairmen. That's intolerable. It means nothing can be done in the House because there is no one to negotiate with. Right now there is no majority party in one half of Congress.

Anonymous said...

A reward for work? So those on food stamps just aren't working or don't want to? And our unemployment problem would disappear entirely if everyone on food stamps went and got one of the millions of jobs businesses simply can't get anyone to fill?

Phil said...

I disagree with you, John. There's a sense in which this is the way it's supposed to work - people vote their consciences and/or their constituents' wishes (which are hopefully the same). The House is supposed to be composed of 435 people, not 2 parties. If the House leadership can't force through a bill opposed by the majority of members (or vice versa), or block the consideration of a validly-proposed bill or amendment just because the minority party offered it, that's a good thing, isn't it?

We have adopted a paradigm where we expect a few elites to negotiate with each other and make sure the fix is in, i.e., Obama and Boehner agree on a bill and Boehner rams it through. I prefer the model where Members vote, and the results are what they are. If the outcome is a little messy at times, so be it.