Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What Next? It All Depends On Harry

A cloture vote has been scheduled for 11:00 Eastern this morning. It is expected to fall short of the 60 votes needed to force an up or down vote. Donny Shaw at the OpenCongress-Congress Gossip Blog has examined what might happen next.

There are about 200 other amendments to the Department of Defense Authorization bill and Harry Reid could choose to move on to debating and voting on them. Or, he could hold another all-night debate ending in another cloture vote on the Levin-Reed amendment.
According to the Congressional Research Service Report all 100 Senators and their staffs are studying very closely,
There often has been more than one cloture vote on the same question. If and when the Senate rejects a cloture motion, a Senator then can file a second motion to invoke cloture on that question. In some cases, Senators even have anticipated that a cloture motion may fail, so they have filed a second motion before the Senate has voted on the first one. For example, one cloture motion may be presented on Monday and another on Tuesday. If the Senate rejects the first motion when it matures on Wednesday, the second motion will ripen for a vote on Thursday. (If the Senate agrees to the first motion, there is no need, of course, for it to act on the second.) There have been instances in which there have been even more cloture votes on the same question. During the 100th Congress (1987-1988), for example, there were eight cloture votes, all unsuccessful, in connection with a campaign finance reform bill.
In short, losing today's cloture vote is not necessarily the end of Levin-Reed. If as Bmaz suggests this is all political theater Harry will decide to abandon Levin-Reed and move forward to consider other amendments, which is exactly what the New York Times reported they would do yesterday. If Reid is really serious he can keep the all nighters going until the Republicans say uncle.
How much delay the Senate experiences depends in part on how much time the Senate, and especially its majority party leadership, is prepared to devote to the bill in question. If the bill is particularly important to the nation and to the majority party’s legislative agenda, for example, the majority leader may be willing to invest the days or even weeks that can be necessary to withstand and ultimately end a filibuster.