Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 15, 2011

HOUSE DEMS' CLEVER MOVE PUTS GOP IN TOUGH SPOT.... If you were fortunate enough to be watching the House floor this morning, you happened to catch the House Democratic minority pulling an entertaining fast one on Republicans.

The House will vote this afternoon on Paul Ryan's radical 2012 budget plan, but before members weigh in on that measure, an amendment was brought up, allowing House members to vote on the even-more-unhinged Republican Study Committee budget plan, whose architects think Paul Ryan is a moderate.

It wasn't expected to be close, since Democrats and less-crazy Republicans would defeat it. But Dems had a better idea: why not vote "present" and let Republicans fight amongst themselves?*

A proposal by conservatives to make deep cuts to spending and tax rates was defeated, but only after last-minute maneuvering by Democrats on the House floor.

The Republican Study Committee's (RSC) alternative to Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) 2012 budget went down in a 119-136 vote, gaveled shut only after Democratic leaders started pushing members to switch their "no" votes to "present," in order to force a face-off between conservatives and the Republican leadership. A total of 176 lawmakers voted "present."

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said on Twitter: "Dems voting present on RSC budget to highlight GOP divisions, plans to end Medicare - which bdgt does GOP support? Ryan or Ryan on steroids?"

It was a clever idea. Most Republicans were inclined to support the truly insane RSC proposal, but with so many Dems voting "present," there was a very real chance that the RSC plan would actually pass -- and it, not Paul Ryan's plan, would be the approved budget plan for the House.

And it nearly worked. Many Republicans who'd voted for the RSC plan had to scramble to switch their votes and avoid a huge embarrassment. Indeed, the result itself was still pretty embarrassing -- there are 176 members of the Republican Study Committee, but only 119 Republicans voted for the RSC's plan.

For Congress watchers, this was quite a bit more drama than we're accustomed to seeing. David Kurtz noted that "chaos erupted" on the House floor, while The Hill said the final minutes of the vote "were characterized by shouting more typical of the British parliament than the U.S. Congress."

Let me just state this again for the record: Nancy Pelosi is a very effective caucus leader.

* edited for accuracy

Steve Benen 12:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

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I'm surprised anyone on the Republican side stopped licking boogers of their fingers long enough to notice they were being flim-flammed.

When you have your head up your ass, you have no idea how tough it is to pick your nose, let alone know what's going on around you.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 15, 2011 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

A win-win move, since the Republicans who voted against Ryan on Steroids will face primaries from Tea Partiers. "Congressman X voted for the moderate Ryan plan, a plan so insufficiently unhinged even the lame stream media called it 'serious'. Stand up to Ryano-RINOs!"

Posted by: ragbatz on April 15, 2011 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Nancy Pelosi for President!

One question. Can't the "present" votes be used against the dems in an election? The cons (or was it Hillary?)tried it with Obama, but the accusations of Obama as a do-nothing didn't stick.

Posted by: CDW on April 15, 2011 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Should read, "...off their fingers."

Jeez, I hate typo's!
Especially after you proof-read your comment a couple of times, but don't notice until you hit "post."
And I do it ALL of the time!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 15, 2011 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Who hoo! Nancy SMASH!!!

Posted by: MJ on April 15, 2011 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Creative and entertaining move by the House Democrats. I have no complaints about them in this incident.

My question is, will anyone who isn't an "inside politics" type ever notice it? Specifically, will any of the mainstream media pay any attention or discuss just how extreme this bill was that House Republicans almost passed?

Posted by: tanstaafl on April 15, 2011 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

"And I do it ALL of the time!"
gulag, you are simply blinded by your brilliance. . .

Posted by: DAY on April 15, 2011 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Nancy Pelosi is awesome. I'm still chuckling at her answer to the Goopers asking when she would support a vote on privatizing medicare: "Never. Is that good for you?"

Posted by: melior on April 15, 2011 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, we need 100 more Pelosis in Congress. Smart, tough, honest and decent.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on April 15, 2011 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Even more awesome is if Pelosi had gotten enough Dems in super-safe seats to switch from Present to Yes.

Posted by: guachi on April 15, 2011 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

They'll notice it if you draw their attention to it by putting the permalink of this post on your facebook page.

Posted by: markg8 on April 15, 2011 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe I'm slow, but wouldn't it be better for Democrats if the Republicans were on record voting for a far, far right budget plan that eliminates Medicare? Even in the reddest states seniors, who are an important part of the Republican base, wouldn't be happy.

Posted by: SteveT on April 15, 2011 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

Brilliance? HA, I wish!
More like fumbling fingers and a muddled mind.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 15, 2011 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Paul Ryan's radical 2012 budget plan

Reactionary budget plan. Reactionary.

And while I'm at it:
in order to force a face-off between conservatives and the Republican leadership.

This should be the between the reactionaries and the Republican leadership. All of the Republican leadership is, at the very least and self-proclaimed, Conservative. And a good number are reactionary. The Hill quote implies otherwise, like maybe Moderate.

Posted by: martin on April 15, 2011 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

@martin, I don't think "reactionary" resonates with many non-Marxists. In fact, plenty of right-wingers hear "reactionary" as a commie dog-whistle. Until "fuck-witted" becomes accepted in polite discourse, I'm afraid "radical" will have to be the best available adjective for describing Republican policy.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on April 15, 2011 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Nancy and whips -- I needed a good laugh today!

Posted by: K in VA on April 15, 2011 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, I couldn't agree with you more about Pelosi. As for the Republicans... her trick couldn't have happened to a nicer group of people :D

Posted by: JD on April 15, 2011 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Oooohhh... that devil Nancy. Does the House of Representatives have a popcorn concession?

Posted by: MattF on April 15, 2011 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK


Nothing but respect for her, but she's got enough testicular fortitude for the House, the Senate, and the Presidency.

Posted by: taritac on April 15, 2011 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

@martin - I like your suggestion of "reactionary" more than "radical." "Radical" to me is steadily going the way of "out-of-touch" (which, in my view, was lame on arrival). When I hear "radical," it doesn't do much for me, but when I hear "reactionary," it brings to mind frothing-at-the-mouth, eye-bulging teabaggers who are eager to be used by Republicans as political cannon fodder. Thumbs up.

Posted by: June on April 15, 2011 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

"It's clever when WE do it."

Posted by: Every liberal who has ever lived on April 15, 2011 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Nickel prayer from Pope Benedict the Pope to the first guy who posts the link to the video.

I want to look for dark circles forming in the leadership's armpits and trousers as the situation unfolds.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on April 15, 2011 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

The grandma knows her stuff,

Posted by: nenabeans on April 15, 2011 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Is it possible the Dems finally have a strategy? Or even just a tactic? Mark your calendars. This could be an important day.

Posted by: rrk1 on April 15, 2011 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Rep. Pelosi was reportedly pissed as hell about the Continuing Resolution negotiated by Pres. Obama, Sen. Reid, and Spkr Boehner, partly because she was not included. And she voted against it. If the Dems in the House have found a spine, I'll bet it's cause Rep. Pelosi has decided to stop waiting for the Pres to lead them. My guess is that is exactly what he wanted to see happen. He wanted to see Nancy Pelosi get her feisty back!

Posted by: jpeckjr on April 15, 2011 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

So the democrats continue playing their games with the budget. Lest we forget that they failed to propose and subsequently vote for ANY kind of federal budget for 2011. By voting "present", all they do is continue failing to conduct themselves as representatives of the people. Meanwhile, the republicans propose to continue what the democrats started and spend money we don't have. Take a stand, vote no and say "I told you so" to the republicans if their budget doesn't work as promised. Unfortunately, ALL these politicians are playing games with OUR future.

Posted by: shadow.citizen@gmail.com on April 22, 2011 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK
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