The Secret Senate Vote, No Longer Secret

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 14 2014 10:11 AM

The Secret Senate Vote, No Longer Secret

Two days after the Senate voted through a yearlong debt limit delay, the oddness and folly of the actual roll call continue to rankle reporters. The problem—and it was a fleeting problem—was that the usual, audible call of names did not happen. Harry Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson explained that "after the vote began, it was quickly clear that Republican leaders were struggling to deliver enough votes," so "at Senate Republicans’ request, the clerk did not call the names during the vote to make it easier for Republican leaders to convince their members to switch their votes."*

Who switched? Roll Call was watching, and the names are: Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, and Arizona Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain. Only Cornyn is on a ballot in 2014. All of them took one for the team, but only Flake, who voted no on the 2011 Budget Control Act (which started the three-step rise of the debt limit), was casting his first base-anger debt vote.

Advertisement

Kate Hunter  has a relevant story about all this in Bloomberg. The framing is, by now, pretty standard: It casts Ted Cruz as a heavy who can't be controlled anymore. "In decades past," she writes, "leaders could rein in such behavior by threatening to take away coveted committee assignments, withdrawing financial support, or shunning lawmakers. None of those tactics are effective in a political era in which campaign cash flows freely from outside the party machinery and cable outlets offer many ways to grab attention and influence."

Doesn't all of this play exactly to Cruz's theory—the Tea Party's theory—of Washington? Cruz knew that five Republican colleagues, at least, would need to take a hard vote. But he also knew that they wanted the bill to pass. Why shouldn't they take that vote? True, Cruz had no plan to avoid running into the debt limit if the bill failed on Wednesday. But who looks worse today? Him, or the people who asked the vote-keeper to keep vewwy, vewwy quiet so they could switch their votes?

*This wouldn't have quite worked in the House, where real-time votes are displayed on a projection above the press gallery.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Technocracy
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.