Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Bills Introduced – 5-29-23

Yesterday, in a rare Memorial Day session, the House met in pro forma session to introduce one bill, HR 3746, the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, Rep. McHenry, Patrick T. [R-NC-10]. This is the debt ceiling bill that was finalized in negotiations earlier over the weekend. The full text of the bill is available.

The House Rules Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the rule for consideration of HR 3745 later today. This will almost certainly be a ‘closed rule’ with limited debate (not too limited, there will be time for venting and posturing), and no amendments will be accepted. A vote on the bill will almost certainly be held in the House tomorrow

Extremists on both sides of the political spectrum in Congress will find much in this bill with which to object. Some measures will go too far, while others will not go far enough. The political middle will find those measures to be more palatable. I suspect that there will be sufficient votes in both the House and Senate to pass the bill when it comes to a vote.

The big question now is what will the bomb throwers do in either house. In general, the right-wing extremists got what they wanted, they forced Biden to negotiate on the debt limit and forced spending cuts. They did not get all that they wanted, but after some pointed and loud complaints they will vote against the bill to establish their credentials (and aid fundraising). They, as a group, will not give Speaker McCarthy too much of a hard time on the bill. McCarthy did as they wanted and was largely successful.

But, and this is a LARGE BUT, there are members of this group who have made their reputation by (and receive their funding for) disrupting the operations of the House. This is where a single bomb thrower could offer a privileged motion to vacate the Office of the Speaker, and the House would be required to stop what it was doing and vote on that motion. Now it would take 217 votes to actually remove the Speaker, and that is not going to happen over this bill (the moderate Democrats will 'save' McCarthy). But it would slow down operations a small amount and it would make McCarthy’s future more difficult. But, even with a motion to vacate, the House will vote on this bill and almost certainly pass it on Wednesday.

The Senate is a different story. There are not ‘bomb throwers’ in the Senate, it is much too dignified and proper to allow such members. It does, however, have rules in place for the slow and measured consideration of legislation. And it takes (maybe several) unanimous consent motions to work around those rules to pass legislation quickly. And the Senate has any number of members on the left and right who would insist on following the rules and object to such unanimous consent motions. It is very likely that the Senate will go through the prolonged debate process to pass this bill, but it will pass.

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