The Corner

‘Chicken Crap’ Or, One More Bit of Procedural Chicanery for Old Time’s Sake

Dear Corner readers, I know you thought your days of worrying about “deem-and-pass” rules, “ping-ponging,”  and other congressional arcana were over when the president signed the Affordable Care Act. But it looks like House Democrats had one bit of wild procedural abuse left in them for the lame duck.

See, we thought the House vote on the middle-class-only extension of current tax rates would be purely symbolic. The short version is that Democratic leadership was worried Republicans would be able to pull in enough moderate Democrats to “recommit” — sending the half-measure tax bill into legislative oblivion. So, they were looking at voting under a suspension of the rules that would take away the recommit. But since that vote would have required a two-thirds majority to pass, it would have been pure political theater, an attempt by Democrats to get Republicans on-record “blocking a tax cut for the middle class” (or, without the scare quotes, on record blocking a tax hike in a recession). 

Instead, the Democrats have come up with a procedural trick that allows them to pass the tax hike with a simple majority and denies the minority party their long-enshrined right to offer an alternative. Basically, the Democrats are taking an innocuous air transportation bill — already passed by the House and amended in the Senate — scooping out its insides with a legislative melon-baller, and replacing them with brand new taxes. Since the bill (or at least its exoskeleton) already “passed” the House and that body is merely taking it up again to consider Senate amendments, the Democrats can set the rules of debate very, very narrowly. And indeed, they wrote the rules in such a way that their tax hike amendment, and only their tax hike amendment, can be considered.

I heartily endorse Speaker-designate Boehner’s new nickname for this maneuver: “Chicken crap.”

If there is a bright spot in this, it’s that the procedural vote to allow this bit of chicanery was very close (213-203), with at least 28 Democrats voting against. And Pelosi has scheduled a number of insignificant but time-wasting votes before the tax hike is actually taken up later this afternoon, suggesting that Democratic leadership need that time to whip, whip, whip.

Daniel Foster — Daniel Foster has been news editor of National Review Online since 2009, and was a web site editor until 2012. His work has appeared in The American Spectator, The American ...

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More