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Turtle Soup

For all of you criticizing Senator Schumer stop it. You either don’t understand why he did absolutely the right thing yesterday, or you are as bad as Cotton and Perdue. If you thought the President who can’t shoot straight or apologize about anything was going to blink, there is nothing I can do or say to help you other than I strongly advise that you stay away from any sort of gambling. You didn’t have the leverage. No matter how you tried to spin it every day you kept the government closed the more likely you would end up getting the blame not the President, not the republicans, and the Dreamers would still be out in the cold.

Part of the problem is you will never be able to explain to the American people the arcane rules and procedures of the Congress. Without that knowledge it is difficult to understand how first the House and now for several years the Senate leadership have rigged the system -- their way or the highway. Most of you know about the Hastert Rule that requires the Speaker of the House to only bring issues to the floor that can pass with 218 republican and 0 democratic votes. This gives the Freedom Caucus with its some 36 members a veto power over what the House can consider. They are pledged in most instances to vote as a block denying the Speaker enough republicans for a majority unless he is willing to break the Hastert rule. The caucus has already run off one Speaker for not always playing by their rules and are thought to have made it clear to Ryan before he accepted the speakership they expected him not to follow in his predecessor’s footsteps.

What hasn’t got nearly as much attention is the Senate Majority Leader’s, AKA, the Turtle’s own version of the Hastert Rule. That is why we have had 4 CRs since September. Unless he had enough republican votes he has relied on rules requiring only a majority that can’t be filibustered. That bag of tricks is all gone for a while, meaning that to get cloture and cut off debate the Turtle needs help from democrats. But that means compromise and until this weekend that is something he has not been willing to consider. His pledge to bring DACA to the floor opens the way for a good bill to be passed possibly by as many as 70 senators. More than enough to kill any Cotton/Purdue bill or amendments, and most importantly shut off debate by opponents of DACA.

Yes, the Turtle could go back on his word, anger at least 10 members of his own party, and try to get 60 votes on a bill you wouldn’t like, but I don’t think that is likely. Even if he does he won’t be able to muster 60 votes, probably not even 51. The CR will end, but this time it will be much more difficult to blame the democrats for the shutdown. It will be clear that it is the Turtle, and his going back on the pledge he made.

Should he do as I think he will – allow a vote on a good bill – there is no guarantee what Ryan and the Freedom Caucus will do. In this case, however, it will also be clear who kept the government shutdown – Ryan and the President. If a Senate bill dies in the House, it will only be because the President/Ryan refused to bend the Hastert rule and/or were unable to convince the Freedom Caucus to live up to its name. Should they surprise us with a vote on the Senate bill, I think it would pass easily with 260 or more yes votes. In none of these cases do you lose your leverage.

Compare those outcomes with what we would have if you had kept the government closed taking much of the blame for the President’s and the republicans’ outrageous behavior. If I were you, I would contact Senator Schumer and the moderate democrats and republicans to thank them for being smart and patriotic enough to do the right thing at the right time.

Just Saying.


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