Senate rules are awesome!

capitl building by Hey Paul

Can a GOP walkout really stop the climate bill?

[Via Congress Matters]


I’m posting from the road, on my phone, so this won’t be as comprehensive and link-rich as it should be, but here goes.

It’s been pointed out that there’s a rule in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that requires the presence of two minority side Senators for a markup to go forward. But like most such rules, it’s probably not “self-executing,” meaning that in order for it to have an effect, someone needs to show up to point out that there aren’t the requisite number of minority Senators in attendance. A majority side Senator could certainly do that, but why? The job of protecting minority rights belongs chiefly to the minority. Let them do it. And when they do, you politely point out that if you’re present enough to object, then you’re present enough to count towards a quorum.

Now, this particular rule requires two minority Senators, not just one. That sounds like a rule designed by someone who had been burned by the one-Senator rule before. So technically, one Republican can show up, point out that there aren’t two, and try to invoke the rule. And if that happens, what can the chair do about it?

Well, one way around it is the way the Judiciary Committee traditionally deals with a similar rule. They ignore it.

Another would be to bypass the formal use of the committee entirely, and use Rule XIV to move the bill to the floor when they’re ready. That is, Chairwoman Boxer could convene a meeting of anyone who’s on the committee and who wants to participate in the process, and in effect simply ask them, “If this were a committee markup, what amendments would you offer, and how would you vote on them?” Then she could alter her draft bill accordingly, and either try to move it to the floor under Rule XIV, pass the resulting document on to the next committee of jurisdiction for its consideration, or set it aside for whatever future merger process the leadership may have planned for it.


I wrote about this the other day.The Republican members of the committee were going to vanish, making it impossible to continue because 2 minority members were required for markup to continue.

But it requires someone to be present to ‘notice’ that the minority members are absent. If no one ‘notices’ then things are fine. What an perfectly diabolic way to get around a rule.

And then if someone from the GOP does show up to ‘notice’ well, the majority just says that this is not a real committee meeting. “We just happened to get together to talk about the bill. Want to join us?”

Parliamentary procedure at its best!