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June 16, 2007

Reid To Use "Unprecedented" Procedural Sham To Snake Amnesty Past Cloture

K-Lo reports it but doesn't explain it. Allah guesses at the procedure but I don't think he's got it.

JackM? Can you assist?

UPDATE (Jack M.):Allah's analysis is pretty close to what I understand the effect of Reid's purported manuever to be. Here's how I understand it to work:

Under Senate Rule XV, any Senator can ask that any amendment containing several parts be made subject to division. The person who decides whether the amendment can be divided will be the presiding officer: in this case whatever Democratic Senator is in the chair at the time, or VP Cheney if they think he might be needed to break a tie vote. The Senate as a body can appeal a ruling of "divisibility", but it only needs a majority vote to be upheld.

Because Senator Reid is the Majority Leader, he has procedural powers that trump every other Senator's in that he is privileged for recognition over any other Senator. Basically, it means he gets to go first. So what it sounds like he is going to do is offer the "Grand Compromise" as a Substitute and then make his own motion to divide his amendment into, say, 24 parts. The Dem Senator in the Chair will rule that the amendment is divisable and all of a sudden one amendment becomes 24 seperate amendments.

Why is this important? Because Amendments under division are AUTOMATICALLY considered one right after the other. No other amendments can be considered while the divided amendments are chugging along.

This means that you now have to consider 24 Amendments right off the bat. In a post-cloture environment, you only have 30 hours to consider amendments before a Roll Call Vote on the underlying bill must be held. Even if other Amendments are pending (and would normally be brought up for a vote), once the 30 hours time limit hits, those amendments are washed away as if they never existed.

So, the Net Effect will be that even if say Sessions or Demint filed an amendment, it could not come up any earlier than 25th. Since the clock will be running continuously while the individual divided amendments are being discussed, and even during the roll call votes, this means that not only will anti-Amnesty GOP Senators likely not see their amendments called up, but that DEMOCRATIC "poison pill amendments" (like Dorgan's 5 year guest-worker sunset) won't see the light of day either, unless it is still in the text of the new amendment language that Reid is making divisible.

I never saw this procedure used as a way to fill the Amendment tree or to run out the cloture clock in my time working in the Senate. I think it is an unprecedented use of division by the MAJORITY to do this.

I hope this helps. It's the best I can do on a Saturday evening.

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posted by Ace at 04:39 PM

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