Posted Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010, at 12:30 PM
So: This is what Democrats in the House are trying to do to break the tax cut impasse. They don't want Republicans to wrangle enough votes to recommit the tax bill they have the votes for, effectively killing it. They can't have a vote to suspend the rules, which would prevent a motion to recommit, because they need a supermajority for that. David Walden
explains what they
The Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2010, Part III was originated in the House and passed back in March. (And remember, if there are going to be revenue provisions in this thing, it has to have originated in the House, so that's important .) It then went to the Senate, and sat around until September. When it came to the floor, the Senate amended it, passed the amended version, and sent it back to the House.
Now, the House plans to take up the Senate amendment, which it does under a rule governing debate, just as it would with any bill. And if you want to, you can write the rule for the bill to disallow any amendments to it, and that's just what they've done with this one. But writing a rule to disallow a motion to recommit is just not done. It could be done, but it would be a very, very serious infraction against the rights of the minority. So it's not done.
But guess what? Because this is a bill that's already passed and left the House, and the only changes in it are Senate-made amendments, it can't be recommitted, which means there can't be a motion to recommit. Why not? Well, when a motion to recommit passes, it technically sends a bill back to the committee that reported it out. But this bill has already left the custody of the House when it passed the first time. That material can't be recommitted, and neither can the Senate material, which was never in the hands of the House committee in the first place. So by definition, it can't be recommitted. The only thing that can happen is that the House can agree to the Senate amendment, disagree to it, or agree to it with additional amendments. That's it. No recommittal. And only the amendments the Rules Committee allows.
And what amendment will the Rules Committee allow? An amendment to strip out the current contents of H.R. 4853, and replace it with the new, Middle Class Tax Relief Act.
John Boehner responded to this plan today by saying "I'm trying to catch my breath so I don't refer to this maneuverthat's going on today as chicken crap, all right?" Let's just state the obvious: He means "chickenshit," or wimpy. Because Democrats probably have the votes to pass this, the way they definitely had the votes to "deem and pass" the health care bill in March, before Republicans called out that strategy as a wimpy end-run around an up-or-down vote on the bill. Boehner is also right. This is chickenshit. It gives House Democrats a "victory" that wouldn't mean anything in the Senate, even if it benefited House Democrats running in 2012.