Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Rules Committee to hold Hearing on HR 2608 – FY 2012 CR

The House Rules Committee web site today announced that they would be holding a hearing on Monday afternoon at 5:00 pm to prepare the rule for the consideration of HR 2608, the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012. The rules for two other bills are also scheduled to be considered at the same time;

It looks like the Rules Committee is planning on approving a closed-rule for the House debate on HR 2608. The web pages for the other two bills provide a link for instructions on how to submit amendments for floor consideration. There are no such instructions linked to the HR 2608 hearing page. Nor is there a deadline for getting amendments to the Committee for consideration during the hearing. Of course, amendments would violate the ‘DEAL’ made to get the two bills passed in the Senate and hopefully the House.

Confusion in the Staff

I noted in an earlier blog posting there is a certain amount of confusion to be expected next week because the two ‘continuing appropriations’ bills passed by the Senate last week had the same title. We can see evidence of that confusion in the staff of the Rules Committee. On their page listing bills to be considered next week they list HR 2017, the (short-term) Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 as a bill to possibly be considered under a rule. HR 2017 was passed yesterday in the ‘whole’ House. It will be HR 2608, the other (middle-term) Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012.

Procedural Problem

Because clause 6(a) of House Rule XIII requires a two-thirds vote to consider a rule on the same day it is reported from the Rules Committee, a Committee hearing on Monday means that the rule resolution and HR 2608 cannot be brought to the floor before Tuesday. Last week there was an approved House Resolution, H. Res 409, that would have allowed for same day consideration of a Rule concerning continuing appropriations for FY 2012. That rule expires tomorrow.

This is cutting things a little tight, providing the appearance that the government is once again at the brink of a shut down. The House Republican leadership obviously thinks that they have the votes to pass this bill (probably with substantial Democratic support to off-set the inevitable Republicans that won’t be satisfied with the spending cuts). They are almost certainly correct, but short deadlines give people bargaining positions that they wouldn’t normally have.

This could have been easily been avoided by having the House Rules Committee meet today since the House wasn’t formally out of session. The House could have then considered the rule Resolution any time on Monday; easing the appearance of a last minute move to avoid a shutdown.

Oh, that’s right; that would not be practical. It would have deprived too many people of their political theater; the casting of stones at political appointments for their temerity in providing for the potential shutdown of the Federal government. Oh, my!

By the Way

Oh, did I mention that the House passed HR 2017? They did; the entire session of the House today lasted a grand total of 6 minutes 11 seconds according to the Clerk of the House web site. And that included a prayer and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. The actual consideration of HR 2017 took a total of 24 seconds. Only two representatives were named as being present; Rep. Harris (R,MD) who was appointed Speaker Pro Tempore for today; and Rep. Culberson (R,TX) who managed the ‘debate’ on HR 2017; so many owe so much to so few....

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