We must learn the senate rules in order to successfully play the political game – IOTW Report

We must learn the senate rules in order to successfully play the political game


“Republicans got a full repeal bill through in 2015! Why can’t they do the same thing now?”

No, they didn’t. Those who argue that they did need to understand that the 2015 supposed ‘full repeal’ legislation DID NOT PASS the Senate as it was written. Why? Because the Senate Parliamentarian (Elizabeth McDonough) blocked repeal of IPAB and other non budgetary items because they were considered non budgetary in nature and as such stricken by her as extemporaneous. Why was Senator Cruz forced to follow the Byrd Rule via Budget Reconciliation in 2015? Because a FULL repeal vote would have required 60 votes in the U.S. Senate under Rule 22 which would require 8 senate Democrat votes which we DID NOT HAVE THEN and we DO NOT HAVE NOW.  This was the necessity of following the same rules in our recent attempt (foiled by the “Freedom Caucus”) to pass the American Health Care Act.

” Just shove it through using the Nuclear Option!” Fantasy versus REALITY.

The other bogus argument being made by Conservatives is that we can just “use the Nuclear Option” to “shove it through“.  This is NOT possible because the “Nuclear Option” used most recently by Harry Reid to shove through former President Obama’s judicial appointees IS NOT USED to pass LEGISLATION. A SEPARATE senate rule was created to pass legislation passed with only a 51 vote simple majority. It’s called the Byrd Rule (mentioned earlier) which is how we were going to attempt to pass the American Health Care act. This brings us to the next fantasy “well let’s just change the Senate rules then!Changing a Senate rule requires 67 votes which would require 15 Democrat votes in the Senate which we also DO NOT HAVE.

And lastly, the total fantasy argument being made which says Mitch McConnell should just render the 60 vote majority rule or the 67 vote rule to change Senate rules “unconstitutional” which according to this fantasy requires only a simple majority vote (at least 51 Republican senators). In order to make this fantasy a reality, those who propose it


70 Comments on We must learn the senate rules in order to successfully play the political game

  1. Thanks for posting this, Fur. It’s a lot harder to discuss any legislation when there are so many “understandings” about House and Senate rules out there. And, it’s pretty cool to know that sausage making isn’t that hard to understand. You can imagine the slack jaws at your next dinner party. It’s a lot of fun to trot this stuff out.

  2. They simply suspended the fiibuster therefore ending debate on order to shove through Obama’s judicial appointees. They had more than the simple majority necessary to do so at the time. Again though, when passing legislation you must follow a separate Senate rule called the Byrd Rule.

  3. extemporaneous? Did your spell checker sabotage “extraneous” by chance?

    Rather than calling the Senate rules weenie a “parliamentarian” we ought to call the position “senatarian” because it sounds more like “sanatorium” and therefore more apropos.

  4. Crap, most people don’t know the rules to Monopoly. You see a game last three hours it’s a slam dunk that bunch doesn’t.

  5. Here’s what Ryan said in January of 2016 after Obama vetoed the bill.
    “It’s no surprise that someone named Obama vetoed a bill repealing Obamacare, and we will hold a vote to override this veto. Taking this process all the way to the end under the Constitution. But here’s the thing the idea that Obamacare is the law of the land for good is a myth. This law will collapse under its own weight or it will be repealed. Because all those rules and procedures Senate Democrats have used to block us from doing this that’s all history. We have shown now that there is a clear path to repealing Obamacare without 60 votes in the Senate. So next year if we’re sending this bill to a republican president it will get signed into law. Obamacare will be gone” … [emphasis added]
    See the video: https://www.conservativereview.com/commentary/2017/03/paul-ryans-bait-and-switch-obamacare-promise

  6. The blame game………….Who’s to blame, the guy that prepared and served the shit sandwich or the guy that refused to eat it?

    “After President Obama vetoed the repeal legislation, Paul Ryan promised to bring that bill to the House and send it to the Senate. That is not what he did. Instead he pulled a bait and switch, and sent a bill that didn’t repeal Obamacare, but merely tweaked around the edges.

    Paul Ryan promised one thing and did another. Then when he failed, he and his fellow members of the bait-and-switch caucus decided to blame conservatives who refused to go along with the Washington parlor trick.

    This failure rests on the shoulders of Speaker Ryan and his fellow Wisconsinite who serves as President Trump’s chief of staff. It is time that both of them, and the president, keep their promises.”
    – See more at: http://www.conservativereview.com/commentary/2017/03/paul-ryans-bait-and-switch-obamacare-promise#sthash.CZuOIM6m.dpuf

  7. Ugh @Cato, Try READING the piece before commenting on it. That piece from Conservative review refers to the 2015 so called ‘full repeal’ bill which I expained in my piece did not end up as a ‘full repeal’ bill because it also was constrained by the Byrd rule pertaining to Budget Reconcilation and non budgetary items like repeal of IPAB were stricken from the bill as extraneous. The piece is completely disingenuous because it leads the reader to believe that a full repeal bill passed. It did NOT. That entire piece is a fallacious canard.

  8. Mike Lee said it never had a chance to pass in the senate.
    He also said the bill was horrible. He said roll time to roll up our sleeves and produce a great bill rather than jam it down the freedom caucus’s throat. I’m tired of the excuse its not perfect but its what we got. Wonder what America would be like if they had that attitude writing the Constitution?
    Just my thinking don’t need to be called dumb dumb stupid etc.

  9. AbigailAdams, I started researching it as the debate heated up. I believe I forwarded you a few links. It’s not that tough to find.

  10. We ALL want FULL repeal @JTucker but we have to operate within the realm of reality. The rules are what they are and to change the rules we need a larger majority than we have now.

  11. One reality is that republicans promised to repeal Obamacare ……. period Even if you want to claim a repeal has to be part of a “replace” process, the word “repeal” has a clear definition and the AHCA doesn’t meet it. The reality is that if it is not repealed completely, republicans flat out deliberately lied to get elected and I can only hope they will pay a severe price during the next primaries.

    Another reality is that the democrats by “hook or crook” found ways to get whatever legislation they wanted through the process when they were in power, even if it required Obama doing it unilaterally through executive orders and corrupt judges (like John Roberts). There are ways to get things done, but the republicans apparently lack the spine and the wherewithal to do what has to be done to make laws. You don’t win a war by being nice and make no mistake, this is a war for the soul or our republic.

    The real fantasy here is “conservatives” continuing to pretend that Obamacare has the slightest shred of legitimacy under the Constitution. It is a fantasy for “conservatives” to convince themselves that replacing an utterly unconstitutional law with another slightly less odious unconstitutional law is some kind of righteous act.

    The most urgent reality in my mind is that if true conservatives continue to let the parasitic scum that calls itself “congress” flagrantly disregard the limits placed on the federal government by our Constitution, then America as the concept of a constitutional republic is already null and void. I am not willing to accept that without a fight.

  12. Any senator may raise a procedural objection to a provision believed to be extraneous, which will then be ruled on by the Presiding Officer of the United States Senate, customarily on the advice of the Parliamentarian of the United States Senate. A vote of 60 senators is required to overturn the ruling. The Presiding Officer need not necessarily follow the advice of the Parliamentarian, and the Parliamentarian can be replaced by the Senate Majority Leader.[2] However, this has not been done since 1975.[3]
    this is the last line of the Bird Rule.
    you know the KKK Democrat

  13. @BubbasBrother, Yes, so did President Trump. Is he also a “parasitic scum” or he also constrained by the Legislative process. It’s the latter in his case and it is the latter in the case of congresscritters and senators. There are rules to the passage of legislation. Those rules can be changed but you need a large enough majority to do so. We simply do not have a large enough majority to do that, right now. What we can do is what we attempted to do and that was provide much needed relief to millions of Americans suffering under Obamacare. That relief unfortunately will no longer be coming now.

  14. Obamacare started in the House with a bill HR3590 that had nothing to do with health Care. Once it got to Senate the Dems gutted the bill and put in Obamacare. Why don’t we do the same thing. Justice Roberts will have to call it a tax. We are being outsmarted at every turn.
    Obama said it wasn’t a tax lol. Thanks Justice Roberts.

  15. @JTucker The original PPACA had much to do with health care and the subsequent Reconciliation bill added even more. In both cases, they had the neccessary votes to get it done within the rules of the Senate and the U.S. House of Reps, unfortunately.

  16. notice how the democRats are NEVER constrained by rules, votes, elections?

    they just find some ‘authority’ & tell the repugnicans ‘no’
    .. the repugs shrug their shoulders & walk away, defeated … ‘what can we do? … herp, derp’

  17. @JTucker, we don’t have 60 votes to utilize the option you site above. “A vote of 60 senators is required to overturn the ruling.” We have 52. The other 8 would have to be Democrat votes and that is not going to happen.

  18. There is some difference in relying on lying scum to make campaign promises and being the lying scum making promises. I do fault Trump for being played by the DC insiders pushing for something that would never realistically result in actually repealing Obamacare. Fool me once, shame on you …… fool me over and over and over again, shame on me. But, I also don’t think the game is over yet – over the next couple of years, Trump may still be able to keep at least most of his promises on Obamacare if congress will hold up their end of the bargain.

    I think a large part of the problem is a lack of vision and critical thinking by Ryan and company (or simply dishonesty by self serving jerks that really have no intent of getting the federal govt. out of health care). You mentioned the Byrd rule yourself – why wasn’t this bill tailored as a true repeal that was able to pass the house (getting the various factions together BEFORE putting a bill forth) and get it to the senate where the Byrd rule could be applied?

    This whole thing is looking more and more like sabotage to me rather than a good faith effort. Maybe Ryan and his acolytes really are that stupid, but I have serious doubts about that.

  19. And C. Steven – you still haven’t addressed the lack of adherence to the Constitution. If the voters continue to accept unconstitutional laws, congress will continue to ignore the constitution and with every unconstitutional act, America will be diminished even more.

  20. csteventucker – Thank you for your comments responding to erroneous the erroneous ideas being posted. Great education.

  21. And this is why letting obama care implode is the only way to destroy it. It cannot survive without help.
    So Ryan needs to stop trying to fix it.
    Trump knows this, he also realizes a lot of dems and news outlets will blame him and the R’s but it was a loser the day dems voted it in. They own it.

  22. Seems it all hinges on future elections. My fear is people will become so jaded as to say fuck it, doesn’t matter anyway.

  23. Also, the verbiage regarding the Byrd rule that JTucker posted states that a procedural objection will be ruled on by the presiding officer of the senate which is now Mike Pence. Pence would make the ruling and overturning the ruling requires 60 votes. The ruling remains in place if there aren’t 60 votes to overturn it.

    Thus, it seems that the republicans would not need 60 votes to keep the ruling in place and they could pass whatever bill the house sends them with only 51 votes.

  24. Rules are fine and good – but obama and the dems weren’t/aren’t following them – so why aren’t they in prison?

  25. Here’s the quote from the article in Wikipedia (so take with a grain of salt) but I’ve read this five times and it still makes no sense to me..
    “On November 21, 2013, the Senate voted 52–48, with all Republicans and 3 Democrats voting against, to interpret the words “three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn” to mean a simple majority,[59] thereby eliminating the use of the filibuster against all executive branch nominees and judicial nominees other than to the Supreme Court.[60] The actual filibuster rule was never changed.[61] At the time of the vote there were 59 executive branch nominees and 17 judicial nominees awaiting confirmation.[62]”

    It sounds like it’s saying that the democrats just decided that “3/5s” and 51 votes are close enough for government work so let’s just say 3/5s means “51 votes” since the republicans won’t say boo about it anyway.
    So why can’t we just do that?

  26. I agree with you completely @BubbasBrother about unconstitutional acts. Unfortunately, once you subsidize something people LIKE it and in fact, they want more OF it (reminds me of a song). Until we can break the cycle of dependency and PURGE the lower courts of all of Obama’s left wing radical judges (shoved through via Reid’s use of the “Nuclear Option”) we’re going to continue to live under the tyranny of unconstitutional laws. At the very LEAST President Trump is considering breaking up the 9th CIRCUS court of appeals so that ridiculous partisan court can stop blocking every good and LEGAL thing he tries to do.

  27. @BubbasBrother, As I mentioned in the article, replacing the Senate Parliamentarian with Mike Pence is an idea that has legs. Unfortunately thanks to the “Freedom Caucus” we’ll never now know if that would have actually worked.

  28. Nope Menderman, the Central Authority reduced all insurance agent and broker comissions to 6% under our former Dear Leader’s fundamental transformation. So, that premium increase goes directly to the insurance company and then the government and it is then redistributed to other insurance companies not performing as well. Forward Komrade to utopia!

  29. Then why are the insurance companies and agents (except you) not yelling and screaming about this? What I see happening is that the republicans fold, and within 4 years we will have single payer. Is there a psomised bail out that most of us don’t know about?

    What pisses me off is that the left will shut down the government over PP funding, but the right won’t do the same with an issue that controls 1/6th of our economy!

    Cannot the R’s simply defund Ocare? If not, just repeal every single fucking thing they passed through reconciliation with reconciliation. Undo the dozens of executive orders with executive orders. Tom Price can undo every damn thing Sebilious did with a pen! This crap that they need 60 or 67 votes is a bunch of crap. There are ways if they had the balls to do it.

    Every single person I know in the individual market (that isn’t subsidized) has 5 figure premiums and 5 figure out of pocket expenses annually. I know young families that have nearly $50K in annual costs because of Obamacare.

    This won’t last until the 2018 midterms to be resolved…too many hard working people are being destroyed by this fiasco. People are demanding whatever it takes to do a full repeal. Somebody needs to step up and take charge, and no one is doing so.

  30. Oh, and let me add…people are abandoning insurance and putting that money aside for actual care. To be sure the agents and companies are seeing this, aren’t they?

  31. C. Steven – I don’t blame the Freedom Caucus because disagreements with the members should have been ironed out before the bill was ever brought forward – I blame that on Paul Ryan. I give them credit for trying to do what they promised while campaigning.

    I agree with you that the dependent class has become too large and it will be difficult to bring things back in line with the Constitution. But we have to start somewhere and I personally think health care is as good a place as any because if it is done correctly and govt. is banished from involvement, premium and deductible costs will go down to where the “working class” can afford at least a catastrophic type plan (assuming other policies that will improve wages are put in place like deporting illegals and making the regulatory environment more conducive to helping the economy grow).

    The best way to make the dependent class smaller is for the economy to create decent paying jobs that aren’t available for illegals that are also illegally getting food stamps, section 8 housing, free medical care, free education for their children, etc. Corporate America has used illegal immigration as a means of making the taxpayer subsidize their companies, all the while diminishing the ability of citizens to make a decent living. That has to stop before anything else can work.

  32. Thank you C. Steven for participating in this thread.

    I like when this particular discussion stays civil because I really want to be educated on senatorial procedure because until you understand that it is very hard to determine which pol, pundit or journalist is a fullofshitnik or not.

  33. Menderman, there aren’t many health insurance agent/brokers left so it’s hard to build a voting block of people who give a damn. They wiped most of us out between 2010 and 2014 and replaced us with unlicensed, inexperienced Obamacare “Navigators”. There was an uproar in the beginning but then when the Central Authority cut our commissions down by 18 points, that was enough to silence the revolt. People just moved on to other things. Sad really but it is what it is. Also, we can’t repeal the entire bill for the multiple reasons I listed in the article linked above. That stated, we can repeal MUCH of it and much or the WORST parts of it that are non budgetary in nature. That was precisely what we were about to do if we had passed the American Health Care Act but thanks to the “Freedom Caucus” that is not going to happen now. By the way, had we passed the AHCA this is what we could have accomplished JUST WITH “PHASE ONE” not to mention “PHASE TWO” and “PHASE THREE”. https://csteventucker.wordpress.com/2017/03/26/what-parts-of-the-american-health-care-act-did-conservatives-disagree-with/

  34. @Bubba’sBrother The best way to reduce dependency on government is to roll back as much of it as you can. That was precisely what we were attempting to do with the passage of the AHCA. In fact, if you read the other article I wrote (linked below) you’d be amazed how much dependency we could have rolled back JUST WITH “PHASE ONE”. Sadly, it wasn’t good enough for the Freedom Caucus who blocked the chance of even having a chance to repeal those things and maybe more in the U.S. Senate. https://csteventucker.wordpress.com/2017/03/26/what-parts-of-the-american-health-care-act-did-conservatives-disagree-with/

  35. C Steven Tucker knows more about this than I ever will, so I trust him. It’s Ryan and McConnell I don’t trust.

  36. @BB — Just some good-natured ribbing, friend. 🙂 If there is anyone here who would know this stuff, it would be you. I didn’t know the exact wording of the rules, but I intuited them from course of the discussion over the past few weeks. And I trust Trump to know what he’s doing. For the first time in 8 long years (and more) I can finally go to bed at night and wake up in the morning *not* worrying about what my president is going to do today to make my life crummier.

  37. If the republicans cannot get together and get something done we will have VACare for all. I also predict that there will be landslide losses for republicans in 2018 if Obamacare still exists (I know, no brainer). Some will blame Mark Meadows, some will blame Paul Ryan, some will blame Trump, but all will blame the republicans. As I said before, we need a few conservatives willing to shut down the entire federal government, if that is what it takes, until OCare is GONE!

  38. C. Steven – I read your articles and I would really like to believe you when you say “you’d be amazed how much dependency we could have rolled back JUST WITH “PHASE ONE”. While the ideas seem good on paper, we would still have to depend on the same lying pus buckets that said they were absolutely going to repeal Obamacare to implement those ideas.

    My mistrust that what the bill says would actually be accomplished is founded in a long history of having accepted what the republicans claimed at face value. The letter of the law may say one thing, but the bureaucracy always finds a way to twist it into something it’s not or they only enact the parts they like that further the goals of globalism / progressivism.

    It’s still against the law for illegals to get “welfare” benefits of any kind, yet somehow they get hundreds of billions of dollars worth every year. I simply don’t trust the current crop of congressional cretins and bureaucrats to ensure that the laws in this bill are followed even if they are passed.

  39. This entire thread is about government rules on healthcare. It’s about how the government placed rules on healthcare, the rules on the rules about government rules on healthcare and how to undo the rules the government used to put rules on healthcare.

    Seems to me that the government is the problem.

  40. @CSteven ~ gotta admit, I was skeptical w/ your arguments on this since the beginning, but I have slowly come over to your side on this issue. you have presented very erudite reasoning … though I still believe that Ryan couldn’t have bungled this any more than if he tried (& I’m on the fence that he did)

  41. Like Bubba’s Brother said, this Phase 1 2 3 thing smells of promises of the past. Just grant amnesty for a few million illegals, and we will build a wall. Result, no wall, plenty of amnesty. A few years later, Just grant amnesty for a few million illegals, and we will build a wall. Result, no wall. Is there any wonder there are so many cynics?

  42. Slight edit:

    “The right was unprepared for a rightwing presidential victory.”


    “The right (in D.C.) did not want a rightwing presidential victory.”

  43. Many people believe that the right knows the country will eventually be leftwing, and they exist to create the illusion of opposition, but in reality are pulling us along in a way that is more palatable to us mouth breathers.

    I don’t subscribe to that theory.
    But I do believe too many on the right, in power, do believe that is their role.

    McCain is one of them.

  44. For some reason or another I feel like apologizing to Steven Tucker. The guy knows this stuff better than most and gets nothing but abuse here. I don’t get it.

  45. I’m no expert but those who are- including Ted Cruz – have said the parliamentarian ADVISES but the VP can accept or reject it.

    The VP in 2015 was a democrat.

  46. The Byrd Rule is just a rule. It can be changed like any other. It is not set in stone. It does not require 2/3 majority. It can be changed by McConnell deciding to change it just as Reid was able to invoke the nuclear option when he was having trouble getting Obama’s lower court justices confirmed.

    Byrd died in 2010 so the Byrd rule is by no means a Constitutional requirement with a long and respected tradition.

  47. Sorry, but Steven is totally wrong here.

    Changing the rules in the Senate is a piece of cake if your “presiding officer” i.e. the VP is on your side.

    Reid reduced the number of votes needed to simple majority (went nuclear) when it suited him and HE DID NOT NEED 67 VOTES TO CHANGE THE RULES.

    “The nuclear or constitutional option is a parliamentary procedure that allows the U.S. Senate to override a rule or precedent by a simple majority of 51 votes, instead of by a supermajority of 60 votes. The presiding officer of the United States Senate rules that the validity of a Senate rule or precedent is a constitutional question. They immediately put the issue to the full Senate, which decides by majority vote. The procedure thus allows the Senate to decide any issue by majority vote, even though the rules of the Senate specify that ending a filibuster requires the consent of 60 senators (out of 100) for legislation, 67 for amending a Senate rule. The name is an analogy to nuclear weapons being the most extreme option in warfare.”

  48. As an example of how the Senate can change even Constitutional requirements with ease if they want to remember how they greased the skids to pass TPP.

    Treaties require 67 votes for ratification UNDER SECTION 2 ARTICLE 2 OF THE CONSTITUTION “provided two thirds of the Senators present concur;”

    TPP was “fast tracked” (legislation to fast track TPP was passed with 60 votes, not 67) so that only a SIMPLE MAJORITY was required to pass future trade treaties under TPP and the Senate barred itself from filibustering or amending them. Thanks, McConnell and the rest of the RINO bastards.

    You see, Steven, the Senate can do anything it wants including ignoring Constitutional provisions if the people they work for (in this case the special interests) want it.

    Ryan’s protests about the parliamentarian and Byrd rule are also BS.

  49. EXCERPT from the above link:

    “This humiliation of Obamacare reform may prove a watershed for the Trump presidency. What he is saying is simple and direct:

    I am a Republican president who wants to work with Republicans. But if they cannot or will not work with me, I will find another partner with whom to form coalitions to write the laws and enact the reforms America needs, because, in the last analysis, while party unity is desirable, the agenda I was elected to enact is critical.

    The health care defeat yet may prove to be another example of winning by losing.”

  50. Sorry, I just can’t help myself. When I’m told there’s nothing I can do because an unelected, unaccountable bureaucrat (i.e. parliamentarian) makes a decision I go Bluto Blutarski “Nothing is over until we decide it is!”

    Senator Byrd changed the rules – or threatened to – whenever it suited him (thus, the supposed sacrosanct “Byrd Rule” from post 1970 that now chains us to unalterable restrictions for ever and ever).

    When faced with a senate rule he didn’t like in 1979 he said this: “The Constitution in article I, section 5, says that each House shall determine the rules of its proceedings. Now we are at the beginning of Congress. This Congress is not obliged to be bound by the dead hand of the past.
    . . . .
    The first Senate, which met in 1789, approved 19 rules by a
    majority vote. Those rules have been changed from time to time. . . . So the Members of the Senate who met in 1789 and approved
    that first body of rules did not for one moment think, or believe, or pretend, that all succeeding Senates would be bound by that Senate. . . .”

    Anyone who claims something can’t be done because of a senate rule is not telling the whole truth. It can’t be done because there is a lack of will to change the rules to get it done.

  51. Czar – it is a telling measure of how Obama and the far left America haters have succeeded in dividing us that having our elected officials work together is considered treason.

    After 100 years of blocking every civil rights bill, the Democrats could not have passed the 1964 Civil Rights act without Republicans since their leading Senators (including Al Gore’s father) voted AGAINST it.

    I don’t want this country pulled further to the left. I would welcome, however, legislation that removes the worst of Obamacare if our elected officials don’t have the balls to repeal it as promised. I welcome legislation that stops the government from confiscating so much of my labor. I welcome laws that put the priority on Americans.

    If that means getting some moderate Democrats who are up for re-election in fly-over country to vote with Republicans, that’s the American way and I’m all for it.

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