Monday, August 06, 2007

Whose gotcha? 

I am watching with some amusement (and a little worry) the exchange between Larry Schumacher of the St. Cloud Times and my co-host Michael Brodkorb over who voted for what when on the bridge/adjournment/special rules. I am amused and worried about the interchange between Larry and Michael. I'm amused because it's fun to watch two guys ply their crafts. Larry took advantage of my tip on the journal to develop a timeline that he thinks will support the Times story. Michael shows how political tacticians can use the same timeline and create a defense and counterattack. Consider me entertained. It's worrying because I don't wish to watch a protracted fight between people I consider friends. Michael and I hope to have Larry (and Pamela Brogan if available) on to Final Word next week; Larry is invited to coffee at Panera at his next opportunity. (I'll buy if rules allowed.)

My take on this is a little different, and not meant to take a side between them. As some people know, I like to read legislative journals. So when the debate was starting around Larry's post last weekend, I decided to go read this journal, and recommended it to him in a comment on his Friday blog. He generated the post I linked first, and then Michael has responded to him.

The original piece, authored by Brogan, brought up the vote on adjournment, but Larry has turned to H.Res 600 instead of the adjournment vote.
In fact, after the motion to adjorn was defeated, Bachmann still voted against H Res. 600, which was the vehicle enabling the bridge bill to come up in the first place.
Yes, but it also allowed two other items to come up: The FISA revision which eventually passed (to the consternation of the Left), and a bill that would require the President "
to develop and transmit to Congress a comprehensive strategy for the redeployment of United States Armed Forces in Iraq." A vote for H.Res. 600 would have put a Republican on record as supporting the Democratic movement to pull out of Iraq. That is why all Republicans except Jim Ramstad -- who's already shown his preference for a pullout -- voted against H.Res. 600.

The original H.Res. 600 did not contain the provision for the bridge. The bridge was added as an amendment with voice vote by Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings. (See the journal at 4:52pm) Its introduction -- and of course the bad taste in the mouths of Republicans after the shenanigans of the previous night -- left the minority party in no mood to trust the majority to get the bridge to a vote without forcing a vote on H.R. 3087, along with the speechifying and noisiness that would have entailed, and the headlines in the weekend papers (and beyond, since they are now headed to August recess.) This explains to me the votes for adjournment. The recesses taken by the Democratic leadership afterwards -- there were two that day -- were part of the negotiation of how to end the session. I believe, in fact, that it was Hastings and the Democratic leadership who put a gun to the heads of Bachmann and Kline: "Vote against H.Res. 600 and we'll say you voted against the bridge. Vote for it, and we'll say you voted against the war." The rapidity of the DCCC's hit on the two representatives, as Larry documents, should be evidence of the set-up. (You might even say res ipsa loquitur.)

Of course, majorities do this to minorities in legislatures all the time. Bachmann and Kline, correctly, voted against the resolution knowing that their constituencies will not be fooled by a cheap stunt. But to contend that it's the Republicans who are playing politics instead of fixing the bridge is a failure to read the House record of that day correctly.

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