Scare quotes, because it’s DC Kabuki Time! For those who are not ‘blessed’ enough to live within the Beltway – or downwind of it – this is that special time in the legislative calendar where federal politicians preserve the status quo by changing nothing at all and putting a big, red bow on the result. In this particular case, the scenario is as follows: for some strange reason, certain progressives want to make it easier for Republicans to repeal Obamacare by making the threshold for a cloture vote less than the current 60. Saner Democrats – which is to say, about a third to a half of the Senate Democratic caucus – don’t want this to happen, mostly because they can count, and they’re well aware of the minor detail that 2012 is shaping up nicely as a Senatorial bloodbath for their party. So, it’s time for a compromise!
Under the emerging deal, senators would still be able to put a “hold” on nominations and legislation — and therefore prevent quick votes on them — but instead of remaining anonymous for several days as current rules allow, the name of a senator who employs a hold would be made public right away. Supporters of this reform believe that senators will be less likely to drag out a dispute if they need to defend it publicly.
When asked about this, Senator Tom Coburn – who is easily the Senator most likely to call for a hold, and who takes an innocent, care-free glee in maintaining that status – responded by showing Senate progressives the Hawaiian good-luck symbol, and then going off to deliver another baby, in flagrant violation of Senate work ethics laws*.
So I think that you can safely assume that this is not actually going to be, well, relevant. I won’t even go into the other two supposed provisions – reducing the number of nominees requiring confirmation, and banning reading the bills aloud – mostly because there’s no real confirmation that either ‘reform’ will be even adopted. Even if they are, the odds that anything would have changed was… low. Which could be seen as a pity: Democratic Senators worried about their reelection prospects stampede nicely.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*OK, I made up the bit about the Hawaiian good-luck symbol. And the actual, specific baby delivery. Still, they don’t call him “Doctor No” for nothing.