How Harry Reid Plans to Kill 'Cut, Cap, and Balance' Tomorrow

Posted: Jul 21, 2011 8:10 PM

In an update to my previous post,  I reported that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he's tired of "wasting time" debating 'Cut, Cap, and Balance,' and will schedule a cloture vote on the measure tomorrow.  That's not quite accurate.  Moments ago, I spoke with Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), and he told me that a cloture vote is actually rather unlikely.  For those unfamiliar with parliamentary parlance, a cloture vote is a tally of Senators that requires 60 assenting votes to proceed to an up-or-down on a piece of legislation.  Rather than putting his rank-and-file members in the tough position of voting to oppose cloture ("Senator So-and-so voted to filibuster a balanced budget!"), Reid will move to "table" the House-passed bill.  This only requires 51 votes, and its outcome is a bit harder to explain to voters.  Don't be fooled: For all intents and purposes, it kills the bill without ever voting on it, or even voting on proceeding to a final vote.  DeMint predicts that Reid, who earlier today called CCB the "worst legislation" in US history* (!), will whip his caucus hard to vote in favor of tabling the measure.  If he succeeds -- and he surely will -- CCB will never sniff the president's desk.  Senate Democrats will have defeated another Republican solution on the 814-day anniversary of the last time they introduced a budget plan of their own.  Pitiful.

Up next?  The McConnell plan (gulp), the Gang of Six framework (triple gulp), or some other apocryphal proposal like the rumored Boehner/Obama pact, or a short term deal.  Isn't this fun?

UPDATE - A senior Republican Senate leadership aide confirms DeMint's analysis via email:

Reid said he’s not going to “waste” any more of the Senate’s time on CCB and that we’ll vote tomorrow. McConnell disagreed, as he didn’t want to shorten the debate on CCB.  Reid can force a motion to table without unanimous consent, so this way he moves up the vote to tomorrow. A motion to table requires only a majority.

Even though Reid claims we’re “wasting” time, he’s got nothing scheduled for after tomorrow’s vote.  So tomorrow, we’ll be voting on the motion to table. Meaning, senators who vote “yea” will be voting to scrap CCB, and those voting “no” will be voting to continue debate on the bill.

Ah, the Senate is too busy doing nothing that it simply can't "waste" its precious time debating and voting on a bill to balance the budget and avert a default or credit downgrade.

*UPDATE - Heh.  Harry "Worst-legislation-evah" Reid supported a Balanced Budget Amendment in 1997.  What a hack.