Saturday, August 4, 2007

"Actually a bit worse" than Tom DeLay on the prescription drug vote

Democrats are quickly settling in to being a heavy-handed majority in the House -- the very thing they decried about the GOP House leadership, often with ample justification.

The most recent event was a real winner. Rather than go through the gory details, we will refer the interested reader to David Freddoso's account posted on National Review Online.

At issue was a vote to "expand welfare services for illegal immigrants. The drama surrounded the common tactic of having members of Party A vote for Party B's measure in order to lull Party B's leadership into a sense of complacency -- and then change their votes at the last minute, forcing Party B to scramble for last-second vote-changes from their own membership.

It would be nice to imagine that legislators can just vote their conscience. In fact, there is a complex calculus of party solidarity, political calculations, electoral fears or ambitions, and yes, personal conscience, that legislators go through to arrive at each vote.

Back to this event: the Democratic leadership, thinking their measure was going to pass with a comfort zone, let some of their members who are vulnerable on the issue of illegal immigration vote with the Republicans.

But then, the Republicans had a number of members change their votes at the last minute back to "their side," leaving the final tally of votes with the Republicans actually winning the vote.


The Democrats' actions last night are comparable to what Tom DeLay did to keep the vote open and pass the prescription drug bill back in 2003, but actually a bit worse. It was shady enough back then for the Republican leadership to "persuade" members to change their votes while keeping the vote open over the course of three hours.

To change the actual vote total takes that a step further.

For YouTube addicts, here was the loud reaction from the floor when the Democrats tried lamely to explain how and why they overturned a closed vote -- you'd have thought you were listening to the noisy British parliament in session.

And then here are Roy Blunt's scathing comments.

Given that Montana Democrats are warming up their attack engines on Denny Rehberg based on his purported party-line voting, this is a good reminder that Democrats are no less expected to toe a party line than are Republicans. In fact, if one compared ADA and ACU ratings, it is pretty clear that Democrats require a far greater uniformity in voting than do Republicans.

We will vist a related subject tomorrow in yet another discussion about our Senator Jon Tester vis a vis earmark reform (or rather, the lack thereof.)

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