Tuesday, September 24, 2013


On Friday, Kevin Drum stated that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was in a bit of pickle due to the particular procedural posture of the government funding bill. Cruz, of course, wants to stop the funding of the Affordable Care Act. Now, the normal Republican tool to stop anything they don't like is a filibuster. But procedurally Cruz can only filibuster the bill before cloture is called, and before cloture is called the bill is still the House bill -- which is to say, still defunds Obamacare. Once cloture passes, then Harry Reid will offer an amendment restoring funding to the ACA, but both the amendment and the final bill itself will only require 50 votes to pass. Oh no! Whatever will Cruz do?

I wish I had the foresight to put this on paper, because I promise I predicted the right answer: he'll filibuster his own bill, the one that actually does defund Obamacare. This may mark the first time a Senator has filibustered a bill that he fervently supports, but many things about this debate have been unprecedented.

Once he heard about that possibility, Drum thought it would come off as "ridiculous". I'm not exactly sure that's true -- the niceties of Senate procedure won't interest the average tv viewer, who will generally view the matter as Cruz trying to stop Obamacare from being refunded. The wonky procedural posture that leads Cruz to be filibustering what is essentially his own bill will be chalked up to that strange institution the Senate, just as Harry Reid often is seen voting against his own bills in order to preserve a later motion for reconsideration.

Of course, that doesn't mean the ploy will work -- it still would result in a government shutdown for which Republicans would assuredly be blamed, and they do not want that (and resent Cruz for foisting it upon them). But that Cruz was nutty enough to try this gambit I had no doubt about.

UPDATE: And now he just voted to consider the bill he just spent 20 hours railing against.

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