The House held what amounts to yet another placeholder session, passing four suspension bills, seemingly just to keep the lights on until Thursday, which in recent weeks has become one of the only days with substantive legislation on the floor.
We're much more accustomed to seeing the Senate do nothing in particular on any given day, so it's not nearly as shocking for us to see it again. This time, the cause of the wasted day was the waiting period for the ripening of the cloture motion on the motion to proceed to the Rebuilding American Jobs Act, which will come due tomorrow.
But whereas the Senate has the excuse of the filibuster, the House is a place that can get through whatever it wants to get done, because it's strictly majoritarian. It's just that the House doesn't have anything it cares to get through. It's particularly stunning in combination, to see both houses do as close to nothing at all on the same day, in the middle of the week, while thousands are literally in the streets clamoring for action on jobs and economic reform.
Looking ahead to today:
The House has its only "serious business" of the week scheduled to begin tomorrow. Unfortunately, it's mostly more loosening of securities regulations being presented as "jobs" legislation, under the same, shopworn theories of how stuffing venture capital into executive pockets (but doing it with less regulation and paperwork) will eventually "trickle down" and... zzzzzzz. Oh, sorry. Fell asleep there.
The Senate will hold a vote on the motion to proceed to the Rebuild American Jobs Act. But there will actually be two votes on motions to proceed today. The one I just mentioned, but also one on a motion to proceed to S.1786, the Republican "alternative" bill, the "Long-Term Surface Transportation Extension Act."
Wonky rules discussion:
Strictly speaking, this stuff is inspired by, but doesn't belong under, the category of stuff that's happening today. So I'm separating it out. Where else can you discuss this sort of thing but here? And it deserves discussion, this idea that the minority will be offering its own motions to proceed now.
This seems to me to be setting yet another annoying precedent. It used to be that the minority didn't offer motions to proceed to their own stuff. That was just one of those things you didn't do. But hey, presto! Republicans are doing it! Democrats could have, it seems. Anyone could have. They just... didn't.
Worse still, I don't see any indication that the motion to proceed to the Republican bill was subject to a cloture filing. It appears they're just getting a vote on it as part of a deal, wherein both motions will require 60 votes to pass. That's a "painless filibuster" for both. But Dems had already filed their cloture motion, and it would have ripened an hour after the Senate convened today, meaning 11 a.m. Under the terms of this deal, the vote now isn't happening until 3 p.m., plus Republicans are getting a vote on a motion to proceed that will require 60 votes, but never required that a cloture motion be filed. Why let this vote happen?
Well, remember that even if Dems won the cloture vote at 11 (or whatever time they held it), that only establishes the fact that a vote on the motion to proceed will actually take place. A successful cloture vote doesn't pass the motion itself. That means that even with a successful cloture vote, Republicans could still stretch out post-cloture time for up to 30 hours, and the actual vote on the motion to proceed wouldn't take place until Friday. If you think you might actually win, well, then you can start work sooner rather than later. And if you think you're gonna lose, why blow your weekend on it? Just lose on Thursday and go home early.
Still, while the time savings may make a certain amount of sense, establishing a pattern of granting the minority votes on motions to proceed to their own bills seems like a serious power giveaway. You don't hold the door open for the minority to start trying to schedule floor business.
Seriously, something really has to be done about reforming the rules on post-cloture time. There's no reason in the world why a motion to proceed should need any post-cloture debate at all, let alone 30 hours. Post-cloture time is meant for the debate of any still-pending amendments. But you don't amend motions to proceed (or nominations, for that matter). So there's no reason to even have post-cloture debate on them.
But remember... THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THE UNITED STATES SENATE. IT IS PERFECT AS IT IS, JUST AS THE FOUNDERS INTENDED.
It just coincidentally keeps changing, and adopting strange new practices that cede power to the minority that had been out of the question for the past 200 years. Because the Founders intended for us to wait a couple centuries and then all of a sudden invent all kinds of new crap. Isn't that weird?
Today's floor and committee schedules appear below the fold.
In the House, courtesy of the Office of the Democratic Whip:
THE NIGHTLY WHIP: WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2011
On Thursday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for Morning Hour debate and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.
First votes are expected between 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Last votes are expected between 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
“One Minutes” (15 per side)
Motion to Go to Conference on H.R. 2112 – Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012 Motion to Instruct Conferees.
H.R. 2940 - Access to Capital for Job Creators Act (Rep. McCarthy (CA) - Financial Services) (Subject to a Rule)
The Rule provides for one hour of general debate and makes in order the following amendment:
Rep. Miller (NC) Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Possible Consideration of H.R. 2930 - Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act (Rep. McHenry - Financial Services) (Subject to a Rule)
The Rule provides for one hour of general debate and makes in order the following amendments:
Rep. McHenry Manager’s Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Reps. Fincher/Sherman Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. Quayle Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. Velázquez Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. Barrow Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Reps. Perlmutter/ McHenry Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
In the Senate, courtesy of the Office of the Majority Leader:
Senate Floor Schedule for Thursday, November 3, 2011
Following any Leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S.1769, the Rebuild America Jobs Act. The Republican Leader or his designee will be recognized to make a motion to proceed to S.1786, the Long-Term Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2011 (Hatch).
The motions to proceed to S.1769 and S.1786 will be debated concurrently with the time until 3:00pm equally divided and controlled between the two Leaders or their designees.
At 3:00pm, the Senate will conduct up to 2 roll call votes. The first vote will be on the motion to proceed to S.1769 with a 60-vote threshold. If that is unsuccessful, the Senate will proceed to a 2nd vote on the motion to proceed to S.1786 with a 60-vote threshold.
We also expect to vote on a couple of judicial nominations during Thursday’s session.
Roll Call Votes
There were no roll call votes in the Senate yesterday.
Senate Floor Wrap Up for Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Passed Calendar #130, S.271, Wallowa conveyance
Passed Calendar #131, S.278, Arapaho-Roosevelt NF land exchange
Passed Calendar #139, S.535, Leasing in Ft. Pulaski National Monument
Passed Calendar #140, S.683, Mantua, Utah, conveyance
Passed Calendar #141, S.684, Alta, Utah, conveyance
Passed Calendar #142, S.808, Unitah Water Conservancy District contracts
Passed Calendar #143, S.897, SMCRA payments to States
Passed Calendar #145, S.997, East Bench Irrigation District
No EXECUTIVE ITEMS