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View Diary: So what's up with "holds" in the Senate, anyway? (166 comments)

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  •  Nice Job Kagrox, now can you explain (8+ / 0-)

    why Harry decided to bring the Wrong FISA Bill to the floor instead of the one without the Immunity since we could of pulled that one off, or at least won some major concessions ????

    President Theodore Roosevelt,"No man can take part in the torture of a human being without having his own moral nature permanently lowered."

    by SmileySam on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 12:10:08 PM PDT

    •  I can give you the explanation. (4+ / 0-)

      But I can't necessarily convince anyone it was the right thing to do.

      In the Senate, bills are very rarely referred to more than one committee for consideration, though that's routine in the House.

      When a bill gets sent to more than one Senate committee, it usually is sent sequentially rather than jointly, and that was the case with the FISA bill. Since it was considered primarily an intelligence matter, it was sent first to the Intelligence committee. But because it also contained significant legal and judiciary issues, it was also referred to the Judiciary committee, but that referral was the second stop for the bill, not the first.

      Apparently, the default rules for floor consideration of a bill that is reported differently from two or more committees in the Senate is that the first committee's bill is considered as the base bill, with the second committee's version considered as an amendment in the nature of a substitute.

      There were, however, other options available to Reid. He could have exercised some discretion in either reversing the order of the referrals -- or rather, asking the Senate to approve such a different order -- or he could have attempted (and sought approval to) bring the Judiciary bill as the base bill and the Intelligence version as a substitute. A third option would have been to cobble together a new bill out of the pieces of both.

      But the Majority Leader's discretion to do these things is not absolute, or at the very least, should not be considered to exist in a vacuum. At any time in the middle of these alternative maneuvers, any Senator could have moved that the bills be referred in a different order, or that the Intelligence bill and not the Judiciary bill be brought to the floor, by offering such a motion for consideration. And where there are 60 determined Senators for such a move, no amount of objection can stop them.

      So the safest move for Reid at that point was to adhere to the default rules, and in so doing be protected from accusations from one side or another of his caucus that he was intervening in favor of one position or the other. Of course, it's very easy to interpret the option not to intervene as in fact favoring the position that the Intelligence bill ought to be the base bill, which led to a situation where there would potentially need to be 60 votes to defeat immunity, as opposed to needing 60 votes to add it had the Judiciary bill been brought first.

      But the decision was made in the context of Reid sitting atop a Democratic caucus the majority of which appeared to want a quick and painless passage of a version with immunity, as did one of his committee chairs, that being Rockefeller, who was very forceful and vocal about it, while Leahy was much less demanding about his version.

      Why Leahy laid off, even when it became obvious that the hottest of hot button issues in the bill was purely a judiciary matter, I'm not really sure. That's another of the great mysteries of how this bill came to rest where it is today.

      •  Leahy has been strangely quiet (0+ / 0-)

        for months now. Where he used to do all the talk shows and give interviews I can't remember the last time I say him do anything of size or importance. It has been one of those things that make me go hmmmm.

        President Theodore Roosevelt,"No man can take part in the torture of a human being without having his own moral nature permanently lowered."

        by SmileySam on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 05:40:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The safest, indeed. (0+ / 0-)

        So the safest move for Reid at that point was to adhere to the default rules, and in so doing be protected from accusations from one side or another of his caucus that he was intervening in favor of one position or the other.

        The safest move, indeed.

        What Reid pretty much always does.

        Imagine DeLay folding and running like this.

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