December 19, 2005


House, Senate agree on cuts (Stephen Dinan, December 19, 2005, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

House and Senate negotiators yesterday reached year-end deals on a $42 billion budget-cuts package and a $453 billion defense-spending bill that includes a provision allowing oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Now Republican leaders just have to find the votes to pass the bills.

Senate Democrats will try to filibuster the spending bill, arguing that adding the drilling provision at the last minute was a perversion of Senate rules.

"These rules mean nothing. It's like a game of monopoly with grade-school kids. But this is the United States Senate," said Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, before using a parliamentary technique to shut down floor action all night.

He also said he would not consent to passing any of President Bush's pending nominations this year, which in effect blocks seven district court judges and the president's picks to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

How do you filibuster a conference report?

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 19, 2005 7:40 AM

Not only how do you filibuster, but why. The ANWR provision was part of the original Senate bill. It was the House that surprisingly failed to include it -- thanks to extraordinary Blue Dog defections. ANWR can definitely not be the lichpin of a such a compromise package.

Posted by: MGNC at December 19, 2005 9:01 AM

At this point, Harry Reid might just filibuster the opening prayer. This is why the GOP needs its own Lyndon Johnson to run the Senate. Frist hasn't been up to it, and with Specter running the Judiciary Committee, nothing will happen with the existing sub-SCOTUS nominations, no matter the Gang of 14. The only way to break the logjam is for McCain to forcefully and unequivocally threaten to break the filibuster (and to start attacking Reid, Schumer, and Durbin directly, and Specter, if necessary).

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 19, 2005 11:16 AM

The Senate Republicans desperately need a Tom Delay-type enforcer. Heck, why not bring the Hammer himself over?

Posted by: b at December 19, 2005 11:24 AM

> "a perversion of Senate rules"

That's like calling something a perversion of necrophilia.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at December 19, 2005 11:49 AM

Basically, you can filibuster anything that has new legislation. Budget bills are unfilisterable as long as the only legislation they include is (a) devoted to spending or taxing, and (b) is temporary, expiring in less than ten years. This is why the Bush tax cuts expire -- they were passed in a budget bill to avoid filibuster.

Reid wants to treat the ANWR legislation, which allows the government to raise $600 billion by selling its ANWR oil stockpile, as non-budgetary, and therefore inappropriate for inclusion in a budget bill (or rendering it filibusterable if included). However, the McCain anti-torture legislation would be a better target as something non-budgetary.

We're gradually seeing all the Senate filibuster rules break down under the stress of Democratic obstructionism. Look for the "nuclear option" to be exercised in 2006 or 2007.

Posted by: pj at December 19, 2005 11:54 AM

" start attacking Reid, Schumer, etc"

That would be great. But then McCain won't get the glowing press from the MSM.

The positive to this might be to prove or disprove the theory that the MSM would turn against McCain during a presidential run in '08.

Posted by: AWW at December 19, 2005 12:00 PM

Even better, via the Conspiracy to keep you poor and stupid:

...What is most interesting, however, is that several sitting Senate Democrats, including the current minority leader, voted to effectively change the very same Senate rule in 1996. The Chair ruled the conference report to be out of order, and the Chair’s ruling was then appealed. Thus, a “nay” vote was effectively a rejection of the ruling (and a vote to change the rules), and a “yea” vote effectively sustained the ruling. Minority Leader Reid not only voted to reject the ruling and change Senate precedent regarding Rule XXVIII, he also voted to pass, with the help of 43 other Democrats, the very same bill that effectively changed Senate rule.

I hope you find this information to be useful as the debate over energy independence unfolds.....

Posted by: Sandy P at December 19, 2005 3:26 PM