A note or two from Today's Daily Whip:
H.Res. 92 - Rule providing for consideration of H.R. 1 – Fiscal Year Continuing Appropriations Act for FY2011 (Rep. Rogers (KY) – Appropriations) (1 hour of debate) The Rules Committee has recommended a rule with a pre-printing requirement for H.R. 1 . It allows any Member to offer an amendment, provided that they have submitted their amendment and it is printed in the Congressional record (the deadline to submit is the evening of February 15). It also allows for one motion to recommit with instructions.
H.Res. 92 includes a provision that would prohibit the transfer of funds between 302(b) allocations, making it more difficult to offer amendments.
The Rule also provides for martial law authority for any resolution that the Rules committee reports with respect to H.R. 1 from now through February 17.
What? "Martial law authority"? That's what Republicans used to call it when Dems used to waive the normal requirement that rules governing debate on bills couldn't be brought to the floor on the same day they were reported out of committee. Republicans are reserving the right to do this if they need a new rule to modify (i.e., shut down) debate on H.R. 1. It has nothing to do with actual martial law, but leave it to the wingnuts -- when House Republicans used the term in the last Congress, teabagger types "mistakenly" insisted it was Pelosi taking over as World Leader.
Second note: "H.Res. 92 includes a provision that would prohibit the transfer of funds between 302(b) allocations, making it more difficult to offer amendments."
What's a 302(b) allocation?
How committee spending limits get set: 302(a) allocations. The report that accompanies the budget resolution includes a table called the "302(a) allocation." This table takes the spending totals that are laid out by budget function in the budget resolution and distributes them by congressional committee instead. The House and Senate tables are slightly different from one another, since committee jurisdictions vary somewhat between the two chambers.
The Appropriations Committee receives a single 302(a) allocation for all of its programs. It then decides on its own how to divide this funding among its 12 subcommittees, creating what are known as 302(b) sub-allocations. The various committees with jurisdiction over mandatory programs each get an allocation that represents a total dollar limit on all of the legislation they produce that year.
What does that mean? It means that the provisions of the rule governing debate for H.R. 1 will prohibit amendments that move money out of one 302(b) account in order to add more in a different one. Moving money around will therefore be limited to moving it only between functions under the jurisdiction of the same appropriations subcommittee. So you can't cut money from the military and try to use it for hiring teachers. And really, isn't that the way most Americans -- sitting around their red,white and blue kitchen tables -- handle their own budget belt-tightening? Sure it is! For instance, now instead of cutting your food budget to pay for medicine, you can just switch to cat food and keep your medicine budget intact!
Just one of many ways that a "modified open rule" can in fact be pretty closed. That's nothing new, and Democrats certainly weren't overly enamored of open rules during the past few years. But it's just a reminder of the many ways in which campaign pledges can fall apart piece by piece when the job turns to actually governing.