The Campaign Spot

So Does the Senate Parliamentarian Have a Brother Who Would Like to Be a Judge?

From the last Jolt of the week:

How Long Until the Daily Show Starts Mocking the Senate Parliamentarian?

We’ve all had to get our PhDs in congressional procedure lately, haven’t we? In Schoolhouse Rock, it all seemed so simple: I’m just a bill, yes, I’m only a bill, and I’m sitting here on Capitol Hill . . . You get the votes in committee, you get the votes in the full House, you get the votes in the Senate committee, you get the votes in the full Senate, conference if they differ, and off to the Oval Office. Now we would have to add lyrics about the filibuster, reconciliation, sidecars, shell pieces, Gatorade, the flea flicker, the Palestinian Somersault, the inverted triple loop double lutz*, and this bizarre “Slaughter rule” where the House pretends that a majority has already voted for it, without making a majority actually vote for it.

But depending on who you listen to, this news is either a huge deal or only a modestly big deal: “The Senate Parliamentarian has ruled that President Barack Obama must sign Congress’ original health care reform bill before the Senate can act on a companion reconciliation package, senior GOP sources said Thursday. The Senate Parliamentarian’s Office was responding to questions posed by the Republican leadership. The answers were provided verbally, sources said.”

NRO’s Daniel Foster: “”Game Changer” is quickly replacing the various iterations of “under the bus” as the most overused political cliche of our age, but this certainly qualifies as one. And it leaves House Democrats with little but the fig leaf of the “Slaughter Rule” as political coverage.” Yuval Levin summarizes, “Democratic leaders should be asking themselves just how they have gotten to the point that their strategy is to amend a law that doesn’t exist yet by passing a bill without voting on it. Surely it’s time to start over.”  Jonah uses the news as a chance to sneak some Star Trek into the Corner.

I’m with AllahPundit on how this looks like a big deal, but might not be: “I’ll level with you. I think this is huge, but the procedural chicanery has gotten so convoluted that I can’t be sure anymore. Could mean nothing. Or, it could be something close to Waterloo.”

As usual, subscribe, subscribe, subscribe . . .

I do think that House Democrats would be foolish to pass the Senate bill with a promise that the Senate would fix things. The moment the majority vote is cast, I picture it being taken by courier, and instead of going to the other side of Capitol Hill to the Senate, the courier breaks away to a waiting motorcade and speeds down Pennsylvania Avenue, with several dozen horrified, betrayed House Democrats chasing on foot, mortified that they’ve just been tricked into signing the Louisiana Purchase and Cornhusker Kickback into law in exchange for a pile of magic beans. If fear of this scenario is what drives sufficient number of House Democrats to say, ‘I can’t take that gamble,’ then in one of politics’ perfect ironies, what ultimately kills Obama care will be the inevitable, inescapable, indisputable and ubiquitous expiration dates of the president’s statements and promises. In the end, perhaps his agenda will implode because not enough members of his own party trust him.

*some of these phrases are not real legislative terms.

And from the Addenda:

An observation from Cam, last night: “The Democrats are trying to pass a giant, nation-defining, economy-conquering piece of legislation without ever actually voting on it. Why are there not air raid sirens going off?”

. . . Barring some sudden interruption, I’ll be on Howard Kurtz’s Reliable Sources on CNN Sunday morning.