Tuesday, April 20, 2021

House Passes HR 397 - CBRN Intelligence and Information Sharing Act of 2021

Today the House finished their consideration of HR 397, the CBRN Intelligence and Information Sharing Act of 2021, in an unusual ‘bulk’ vote on 15 bills that were debated yesterday under the House suspension of the rules process. The bulk vote required a 2/3 super majority for passage and was passed with a significantly bipartisan 355 to 69. That is the same 2/3 majority that would have been required on a typical suspension of the rules vote on HR 397.

Elements of the Republican party demanded votes on each of the bills when they were considered yesterday. This has been a common occurrence in the 117th Congress as more radical elements of the minority party have made a concerted effort to slow the operation of the House to keep the Democrats from completing their agenda.

The one vote for 15 bills process was outlined as a one-time effort by the House Rules Committee in their rule (H Res 330) for the consideration of three other bills being considered under normal order. That resolution passed by a straight party-line vote as do most rule resolutions when the bills to be considered under the rule are partisan bills.

While the Democrats have demonstrated a readily repeatable technique to counter the radical Republican delay tactics, the protestors countered with another unusual parliamentary delaying tactic. When the proforma motion to ‘reconsider’ the vote was offered, the standard reply to table the motion was made. Normally that motion to table is agreed to in a voice vote, but in this case Rep Biggs (R,AZ) demanded a recorded vote. That recorded vote was postponed until tomorrow. Technically, that vote could lead to invalidating today’s vote on the 15-bills, but it is highly unlikely. But, it will take up time on the floor of the House tomorrow, and that was the point of the exercise.

HR 397 will be sent to the Senate. It could be considered there under the Senate’s unanimous consent process with no debate and no amendments. One Senator, could stop that proceeding by objecting to the consideration of the bill, and that objection would not have to have anything to do with the provisions in the bill. The bill would not make it to the floor of the Senate under regular order; it is not important enough to take up the Senate’s time with debate and an amendment process.

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