The US Senate is set to vote on an extension of unemployment benefits. That’s fine. Whether you agree with the extension or not is not the issue under consideration here.
What is being considered is the issue of WHY politicians (of both parties) deem it necessary to attempt to attach totally unrelated issue amendments to bills? An example of that very thing is currently ongoing. Republicans have tried to attach amendments addressing the Keystone XL pipeline construction, repeal of a medical device tax, an amendment about coal-fired powerplant emissions, and language in the Affordable Care Act that defines full-time employees as anyone that work 30 hours a week, to a bill that addresses an unemployment benefits extension. What do ANY of these amendments have to do with the unemployment benefits extension issue?
Allow me to be specific.
On the unemployment benefits extension bill, Senate Republicans pressured Democrats to allow amendment votes on the bill and sought eight times to get unanimous consent to attach their amendments to the bill.
But Democrats have refused, noting that they already had 60 votes needed to cut off debate and pass the measure.
A senior Senate Republican aide ripped Democrats for rejecting the GOP offer of a final vote today in return for a vote on a Republican amendment. “They are so afraid of this one amendment that they are willing to blow up their entire schedule,” the aide said.
Senate Democrats are considering a proposal (deal) from Senate Republicans to agree to a vote on an omnibus amendment in exchange for completing work on an unemployment insurance extension bill. The proposal would most likely meet a 60-vote threshold to end debate on the unemployment extension bill. A senior Senate Democrat aide said that Democrats believe wrapping several Republican amendments into one has the effect of “watering down” their efforts to score political points. “The fact that we are considering this at all, I think, shows that their gotcha amendments have lost their punch,” the aide said.
BTW, the deal fell apart. The Senate is set to pass an unemployment extension after voting to end a final GOP filibuster Thursday. The cloture tally was 61-35. Six Republicans – Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine, Dean Heller of Nevada, Mark S. Kirk of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Rob Portman of Ohio – joined with ALL Democrats to end debate.
Ultimately, much ado about nothing. But it allows the failing politicians to say that fought the good fight.
Now allow me to generalize, to pontificate.
Perhaps bill amendments is how business is done in Washington DC, it’s how those without the votes get their wishes and/or delay actions. But it’s damn confusing. But, worst of all, it gives politicians cover under which they can hide. They can select one amendment and proclaim support/opposition for that one issue, while the rest of the bill goes unacknowledged. For example, say a Keystone XL pipeline to be built amendment is successfully attached to the unemployment extension bill. A politician can, when campaigning, loudly proclaim they he/she supported/opposed the pipeline issue, while totally ignoring the fact that he/she also supported/opposed the unemployment extension issue.
And they can claim support/opposition of issues as they see fit, that will most benefit them, as polls emerge that express the majority opinion.
By using this tactic, politicians can truthfully claim support for/opposition to any issue. But they never provide the WHOLE truth of their actions. We will seldom, if ever, see a single issue bill that will allow us to see exactly a Senator or Representative stands. And this tactic permits RINO Republicans to claim to be and appear conservative.
But that’s just my opinion.
Cross-posted at The Pot Stirrer, my very conservative web site!