Thursday, December 15, 2011

House Consideration of HR 3671

With tomorrow being the current deadline for funding the government for the remainder of the year, there isn’t much time to consider HR 3671 in ‘regular order’. The House Rule Committee web site early this morning added the bill to the list of legislation that is ‘likely to be considered pursuant to a rule’ this week, but no hearing has yet been set to formulate that rule.

NOTE: There ‘appears’ to be a typo on that listing. It says that the bill was added to the site on “12/14/2011 at 12:37 AM”. I’m sure that it should read “12/15/2011 at 12:37 AM” as I was checking the site last night at 11:00 pm EST.

The rule hearing will almost certainly be held this afternoon, allowing for a vote on Friday. The is an alternative procedure that the leadership could use to bring this measure to the floor and that is to consider it under a ‘suspension of the rules’ which requires a 2/3 majority vote instead of a simple majority. Usually this is not allowed under House Rules on Thursdays and Fridays {Clause 1(c) of rule XV}, but a provision of H Res 493, the rule for the consideration of HR 1540, allows the ‘suspension of the rules’ provision to be used on any day for the remainder of the first session of the 112th Congress.

I would suspect that the leadership will use a closed rule to consider this bill so as to limit debate and the amendment process. It would be very difficult (but not impossible) to be assured of a 2/3 vote for a final spending bill in this Congress. Of course since the initial vote on suspension of the rules is not actually a vote on the bill, if it fails to achieve a 2/3 majority the bill can still be brought up again in ‘regular order’.

There is still a possibility that we might see a short (1 week) continuing resolution to allow for a more extended debate/amendment process on the bill. It is unlikely since this bill was worked out between the Senate and House Appropriations Committees and any significant amendments may make passage more complicated (possible conference committee requirements for instance).

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