On Tuesday, Erick warned that, despite the fact that many representatives would be voting against the final debt ceiling bill, many would be voting to allow other representatives to do so. In short, they could essentially vote to raise the debt ceiling while claiming that they did everything in their power to stop it.
Since it takes a 2/3 majority to even consider a debt bill (i.e., “voting for the rule”), Republicans could stop the bill from ever coming to the floor and receiving a vote. However, many Republicans who claim to oppose a clean debt ceiling increase would “vote for the rule,” allowing the bill to come up for a vote, then vote against the bill, pretending that they did their best to stop it. Erick called shenanigans on this type of thing: “If a Republican votes for the rule to raise the debt ceiling, they have voted to raise the debt ceiling, they know they have done so, and they will not be given pass for washing their hands of the final vote.”
I haven’t seen a followup on this post yet, so I thought I’d provide it. On Tuesday, just before the debt limit vote, the House passed HR 475. The text is here.
The relevant section is the last one:
The requirement of clause 6(a) of rule XIII for a two-thirds vote to consider a report from the Committee on Rules on the same day it is presented to the House is waived with respect to any resolution reported through the legislative day of February 12, 2014, providing for consideration or disposition of a measure relating to the public debt limit.
In short, the bill eliminated the 2/3 majority requirement and the last chance Republicans would have had to stop the bill…for exactly one day! The obvious purpose of the bill was to sidestep Erick’s test and let themselves off the hook of “voting for the rule.” That bill passed, 223-193. They avoided “voting for the rule” by passing a bill saying that they didn’t have to vote for the rule for the bill to come to the floor! Of course Democrats, not wanting to let Republicans off the hook so easy, all voted against it.
Only two Republicans, Tim Huelskamp and Walter Jones (two of the strongest opponents of raising the debt ceiling), voted against the bill. I won’t list here the 223 Republicans who voted aye and failed Erick’s test (or the 1 who voted “present” or the 5 others who didn’t vote at all), but the list is a long one.
(Fair disclosure: I’m a longtime lurker, a very infrequent commenter, and an even less frequent contributor. Also, I’m quite a bit more liberal than most folks here, as my commenting history probably reveals. I thought Erick’s post was a good one, though, and I was curious to see how it played out. Today’s snow day gave me the time to track it down [which wasn’t easy, given the many layers of shenanigans!], and I thought others here might be interested in the results.)