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April 09, 2006

Harry Wins Again

By Neil the Ethical Werewolf

Just because it combines the two things I've been talking about this weekend -- immigration and the newfound competence of the Democratic leadership -- I'm linking to Kevin Drum's discussion of how Harry Reid saw through Bill Frist's web of deceit and ensured that the Republicans wouldn't be able to pass an evil Frankenstein version of the immigration bill.  Matt's right that this hurts the Republicans more than it hurts us. 

April 9, 2006 in Democrats | Permalink

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No offense, but the "agree in committee, gut on the floor and again in conference" was clear to me, a complete outsider, about a week after I started paying close attention to the way Congress worked under the Republican gavels.

We're supposed to give Harry Reid big props for noticing and acting on this *now*, after he's been in the Senate for 20 years? Is that because . . . why? Breaking the force of habit? Well, OK, but that seems pretty weak, and I generally like Reid's scrappiness.

Thanks, Senator Reid, for doing your job and not trusting the GOP Senators who have lied to you and your colleagues every other time you've thought you cut a deal with them.

Posted by: paperwight | Apr 9, 2006 3:30:44 PM

Well, Bill Frist certainly didn't think it was clear to Reid. So Frist tried it and got burned. I agree that it wasn't a spectacular play on Reid's part, but it was a lot better than what a lot of people on the internets would have you think about the Democratic leadership. (Changing their minds is part of why I keep writing about this stuff.)

As I understand it, this wasn't the way business was done at the beginning of Reid's time. The use of conference committees to radically change legislation is a new thing from our new era of GOP dominance.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Apr 9, 2006 4:02:23 PM

Most of the awful things the Rethugs do in the House, Senate, and conference committees are not really their innovations - they just carried earlier ideas to newly radical extremes. Stacking conference committees isn't new, and neither is ignoring the Senate action in the conference. What is new is adding stuff to the final bill that wasn't in either House or Senate versions, or adding stuff in the final print of the bill that wasn't discussed in the conference.

Dems have used the House Rules committee to limit amendments and discussion on the floor. Rethugs just use this much much more.

The Rethugs are just more thugish and efficient in their suppression of the minority. Instead of just shooting bodies and dumping them in mass graves to do genocide, they gas the people and cremate them (saving any valuable parts like hair and gold teeth).

What is new in Reid's approach on the immigration bill is that he made guarantees on the conference committee composition an explicit part of the negotiation in the light of day. Such candor just unhinged the secretive, back-stabbing Frist, who doesn't know honesty (or Senate leadership)even when it bites him in his private parts.

If there is a rule that can possibly be abused, leave it the the Rethugs to make sure to push their abuse of it to the point where the entire rules structure falls apart and should be replaced.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Apr 9, 2006 4:27:54 PM

"Most of the awful things the Rethugs do in the House, Senate, and conference committees are not really their innovations - they just carried earlier ideas to newly radical extremes."

A shrewd observation.

Posted by: Petey | Apr 9, 2006 4:31:51 PM

As I understand it, this wasn't the way business was done at the beginning of Reid's time. The use of conference committees to radically change legislation is a new thing from our new era of GOP dominance.

It's not just conference committees; it's floor amendments. Anyway, the question of course is how many times does it have to happen before one assumes that it's always going to happen, and the Republicans are going to screw you every chance they get, no matter what assurances they may have given privately?

I say the answer is once. Apparently the answer for the Senate Democrats (given that it varies) is some number n, where n is much larger than one. But I come from the world of business, where someone screws you once after you trust them, and you never trust them again.

Posted by: paperwight | Apr 9, 2006 5:07:08 PM

Ghost of the Reagan past:

Trust (only once), but verify (always).

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Apr 9, 2006 5:55:26 PM

It'll still be spun so Dems look totally unreasonable : well, to the unconscious. You guys sound quite ticked. I'm more concerned these days about the reports of U.S. forces' activities near and in Iran.

Posted by: opit | Apr 9, 2006 11:35:04 PM

BTW Neil Louise Slaughter wouldn't thank you for the the characterization of Dems as having new-found competence. I suspect she'd say you've been suckered by a combination of Republican talking points and right-favouring press.

Posted by: opit | Apr 9, 2006 11:40:41 PM

opit, when I say "new", I mean "since the loss in 2004." And I see a pretty clear shift there. No getting suckered on compromises, a big win on Social Security, etc.

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