Thursday, November 5, 2009

HR 2868 Floor Debate

The Committee of the Whole House debated HR 2868 today for 90 minutes and ‘rose’ at the end of the appointed time ‘without resolution’. This leaves the bill as ‘unfinished business’ that may be continued tomorrow or Saturday. What is left is the introduction of, debate on, and voting on the 10 amendments that were included in the Rules Committee report on H Res 885. I only heard bits and pieces of the actual debate and heard little that I hadn’t heard or read in the weeks and months leading up to this ‘debate’. The one new thing that I heard was some Republicans tying this bill into the health care debate. Anything is possible in American politics. There was one vote today that might give some insights into the voting pattern that will be seen on future votes on the House floor. The vote was the approval of the rule providing for the discussion and voting on this bill on the House floor. While it is seldom a perfect predictor of how each member will vote, it does provide a general look at how the overall voting pattern will progress. Instead of being on straight party lines there were actually eleven Democrats that joined with the Republicans voting against the resolution; no Republicans voted in favor. The Democratic majority is large enough that this small number of ‘defections’ will have no significant effect on the solid majority needed to pass this legislation; there was still a 51 vote margin in favor of passage. If it were possible to extrapolate that defection rate to the Senate (a really questionable evolution) that would mean that the Democrats would loose 2.5 votes. That would certainly be enough to prevent a cloture motion from passing without the support of 5 Republicans. That is an unlikely prospect at this point. Of course, the Senate does not mirror the House with such mathematical precision. Again, we won’t know for sure if the House will again take up the debate on HR 2868 tomorrow until today’s Congressional Record is printed tomorrow morning, so we will go back through this whole play again tomorrow morning. See you then.

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