Iraq: Senate Dems got nothing

What in Sam Hill is going on? is a question not infrequently raised by proceedings on the Senate floor. Rather seems like a freemasonry in plain sight.

As witness the arcanum that is the water bill Iraq amendments. (Only in America...)

Yesterday, I took a stab (my hand guided by our friends at The Hill) at the MO to be employed. One or two things are a little clearer.

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Defense mega bill hits House floor

By my reckoning (the FY07 continuing res H J Res 20 aside), the first really big bill to come to the House floor arrives today: HR 1585, the defense authorization bill.

Right now, according to the floor summary, they're adjourning after dealing with (but not voting on) the rule (H Res 403) on HR 1585.

The text of the rule is here.

It's a structured rule (or modified closed rule, if you prefer) which limits the floor amendments which may offered to those printed in the Rules report.

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Iraq withdrawal and the water bill: method in Harry's madness?

As a British pol once said, Why look into the crystal ball when you can read the book.

So, when I get a steer from the folks on The Hill, I'm suitably grateful.

I'm already slightly hazy about when Harry's idea for moving Iraq on on the Senate floor first hit the streets. I do recall - because our friend Tim mentioned it - that Dodd had a whinge about Harry's MO.

But, today's Hill piece makes it make sense that some lefty bloggers (downpage) weren't sure it did.

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Just how bad is Congressional deadlock?

When the copyeds at CQ top a piece with the hed Democrats' Domestic Agenda Hits Gridlock I'm inclined (call me naive!) to believe that this is not a partisan hit.

I've mentioned before that the calendar is not on the side of Dem production: from here on, there are loads of distractions, in terms of recesses, the prez primaries, massive bread-and-butter bills (apps; defense, ESEA, Agricultural Act (re)authorization).

The opportunities for discretionary legislative output this year are closing fast.

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Ways and Means: $100 billion cuts to Medicare providers

There's something about nine figures that grabs the attention. (Worked for Teresa...) [Even more, 12 figures. Er...oops]

So, when it comes as a novelty to read on CQtoday

House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark will intensify efforts this week to lay the groundwork for Medicare cuts likely to target many sectors in health care. The California Democrat has already clarified that he will try to trim payments to Medicare Advantage plans, but this week he'll begin turning more of his attention to Medicare payments to hospitals, home health agencies and skilled nursing facilities.

Stark is likely to have to hit many sectors because of how much money he'll need -- up to $100 billion, lobbyists estimate -- to fund Democratic policy priorities, ranging from covering more uninsured children to blocking payment cuts to doctors.

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Farm bill: insurance racket draws Waxman scrutiny

I mentioned last week that the House Ag committee was going to start marking up the farm bill this week.

CQhighlights one spot which combines the controversial subjects of biofuels and crop insurance.

I'm absolutely no expert in energy or ag: but it seems to me that, the way the US has gone about this, biofuels are very much a road to hell paved with good intentions.

Now,

Corn or soybeans grown for biofuels are covered by the same insurance policies that farmers buy to protect the commodities they grow for food. But the long-term viability of biofuels depends on cost-effective production of "cellulosic" ethanol from plants such as switchgrass, which are not currently eligible for crop insurance protection.

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Nancy's 'Speakerettes' having trouble with the rules

You can't help having sympathy for the Speaker pro tempore: he has to make calls on matters of procedure that would take me a couple of hours rummaging around in tomes (and many times still not come up with the answer!); and he needs an I say it here, it comes out there closeness with the parliamentarians to stop him making a consummate dick of himself.

CQrelates the sad tale of Davis of TN, who managed to declare failed of passage a bill (HR 1684, DHS FY08 authorization) which eventually passed 296-126!

(It's on page H4717 of this.)

According to CQ

Democrats...want their rotation of presiding officers to reflect the diversity in their caucus as a message to voters. Their Speakers pro tempore have included lawmakers who are white, black and Hispanic, men and women, Christians, Jews, Buddhists and one Muslim.

Uncle Steny pulled Davis out of his hole - so I guess that was pretty diverse...

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Why not make the GOP *really* filibuster?

Guy over here asks the question.

And, whilst in the past, I've been happy (for want of expertise!) to answer Because they don't do that any more, I think I'm now able to give a substantive answer.

(Or to give it a first try.)

The first thing to point to is the need to avoid Zeno's Paradox thinking: the least advance planning you need is to walk through ever step, joining the procedural dots, testing every link, running simulations, making sure you understand the dynamics.

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Congressional ethics reform: Dem enthusiasm curbed

It's become increasingly clear that the thing back last year that Congressional Dems really objected to in the Culture of Corruption was that they weren't getting enough of it.

Sirota is distressed at the news that House Dems, faced with the prospect of dealing with S 1 (the Senate version of the promised ethics bill), are back-peddling at 100 miles an hour.

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Iraq: beware the defense authorization bill!

Just mooching around DKos, and spotted a screaming headline (they all are!): $120 Billion More for Iraq Approved 58-0

I knew HR 2006 had gone over to the Senate - but that was bloody quick! And - what happened to the other 41 senators? And - why were they voting on a Saturday...

Breathe easy - it's a little misunderstanding!

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