Tuesday, October 8, 2013

When a Problem Comes Along, You Must...Create a Supercommittee

The House just voted 224 to 197 to create a new bipartisan, bicameral "working group" (i.e. supercommittee) to debate spending and the debt ceiling. Unsurprisingly, since this was drafted by the GOP, it does not allot for discussions on revenue.

What do they say about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results again?

The vote was mostly party line. Blue Dogs John Barrow (GA-12) and Mike McIntyre (NC-07) voted with the Republican majority.

Five Republicans voted NAY: Jim Bridenstine (OK-01), Walter Jones (NC-03), Tom Massie  (KY-04), Ted Poe (TX-02), and Tom Rooney (FL-17).

What does it do? The text isn't available in THOMAS, but The Hill has some details:
Under the legislation, a committee of 20 lawmakers would have to be appointed to the fiscal working group one day after the bill becomes law. Six members from the majority party and four from the minority party in both the House and Senate would be assigned. It would then require the group to meet until it has recommendations.
Democrats--rightfully--scoffed at the proposal:
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the bill “an absurd proposal,” and asked, rhetorically, “Who writes this stuff?”

“I expected better,” said Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-N.Y., the ranking member of the Rules Committee. “Another supercommittee for crying out loud? Look what happened to the last one.”

Slaughter’s Rules Committee colleague, Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., twice called the working group “Supercommittee II: The Wrath of Cruz.” It was a reference to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who has been a leading proponent of the GOP’s decision to demand that Obamacare be defunded in exchange for a temporary spending bill to fund the government.

Democrats also scoffed at the bill’s lack of a timetable, and that its mission statement did not include opportunities for discussions on revenue and in closing tax loopholes for the purposes of deficit reduction.

“That is a farce by definition,” said Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.
(If you want to read a history of the failure of these awful committees over the past few years, I wrote one a few months ago.) 
There were other votes today. One was a unanimous vote to approve a resolution making sure essential federal workers who have remained on the job are paid on time.

The other was the latest episode in the GOP's piecemeal budgeting stunt, always focused on the departments or programs in the news--this time, Head Start. It passed 248 to 168.

The vote was, as to be expected, mostly party line. Two Republicans--Tim Huelskamp (KS-01) and John Duncan (TN-02) voted no.  23 Democrats voted with the GOP:

Ron Barber (AZ-02)
John Barrow (GA-12)
Ami Bera (CA-07)
Bruce Braley (IA-01)
Cheri Bustos (IL-17)
Suzan DelBene (WA-01)
Bill Foster (IL-11)
Joe Garcia (FL-26)
Dan Lipinski (IL-03)
Dave Loebsack (IA-02)
Stephen Lynch (MA-08)
Sean Maloney (NY-18)
Jim Matheson (UT-04)
Mike McIntyre (NC-07)
Patrick Murphy (FL-18)
Scott Peters (CA-52)
Gary Peters (MI-09)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Nick Rahall (WV-03)
Raul Ruiz (CA-36)
Bradley Schneider (IL-10)
Kurt Schrader (OR-05)
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09)

No surprises there.

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