Senate Lacks Votes to Pass Stimulus

A front-page story in today’s WaPo makes official what had long seemed obvious: “Senate Democratic leaders conceded yesterday that they do not have the votes to pass the stimulus bill as currently written and said that to gain bipartisan support, they will seek to cut provisions that would not provide an immediate boost to the economy.”

Oddly, this is exactly what the Senate is supposed to do in our system:  act as the “saucer” to “cool” hastily considered legislation passed by the more passionate House.   It’s been a while since it performed this function on a major bill.

Photo by Flickr user blackbiscuits, used under Creative Commons license.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Politics 101, US Politics, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. markm says:

    Senate Democratic leaders conceded yesterday that they do not have the votes to pass the stimulus bill as currently written

    To clarify, does that mean they don’t have enough votes to pass it….OR….they don’t have enough cover from the repubs to keep them from owning it should it pass?.

  2. MstrB says:
  3. James Joyner says:

    To clarify, does that mean they don’t have enough votes to pass it….OR….they don’t have enough cover from the repubs to keep them from owning it should it pass?.

    I think the former. There are plenty of Red and Purple State Democrats who are leery of this bill. In the House, Democrats mostly have safe seats; not so much in the Senate, which requires winning statewide.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    It’s been a while since it performed this function on a major bill.

    I believe I’d need to think for a while to decide whether that’s really true. However, if it is true, it could be because of demographics. IIRC there was quite a bit of time during which the Senate was significantly more radical than the House.

  5. I suspect this is a filibuster issue, not a 50 vote issue… but unclear from the article.

    I don’t quite understand when the threat of a filibuster became synonymous with the successful execution of one… but it is what it is I guess, and we now live in the system, for good or ill, where 41 Senators can veto a bill just by stating their opposition.

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  7. PD Shaw says:

    I believe George Will has observed that the roles of the Senate and House have reversed from the historical function. The Senate was removed from direct elections for a long time and was seen as above popular passions. With popular elections of Senators and the increase in gerrymandering in the House, the Senate can be seen as more vulnerable to popular passions, while the House is generally run by party elites.

    I think that’s more accurate that James’ analogy. The Senate is scared of this bill and wants greater concensus to avoid the turn of public opinion.

  8. G.A.Phillips says:

    I don’t understand how any so called GOP member can vote for this massive puff of smoke from the flaming pit of burning donkey chips!

    The only thing that this choking cloud of poop smoke has to do with stimulus is to stimulate 50 million+, stupid liberal wannabe donkey sheep into voting these retards back into office in two to four years.

    lol food stamps are better then tax cuts to simulate the economy lol WTF!!!!!!If you live in the cold war Communist evil empire.

    and if just one of the GOP senators votes for this mountain of burro poop I’m gonna have to transfer out of this chicken sh-t outfit!!

    Don’t those burlap save the planet ecogimp bags remind you of anything???

  9. James Joyner says:

    With popular elections of Senators and the increase in gerrymandering in the House, the Senate can be seen as more vulnerable to popular passions, while the House is generally run by party elites.

    House seats are “safe” for parties but not necessarily Members who aren’t sufficiently ideological. It’s true that Senators have to stand for contested elections every six years but their statewide nature makes them less polarized.

  10. Drew says:

    De-caf, GA. De-caf.

  11. DL says:

    “Quickly, quickly, quickly, sign here before that beautiful one of a kind 95 Chevy gets sold to someone else.” Isn’t this kind of talk the kind that makes resonable people grab their wallets and run like Hades? Yet, we hear from the annointed one to get this through quickly, we haven’t time to read and ponder, we must save America now. Same with Al Gore and the Global Warming scam. Bet a buck no one in congress or the whitehouse has even read this hoax.

  12. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Drew, please explain how 5 billion dollars to ACORN is going to stimulate the economy? Fact is this is not a stimulous bill it is a spending bill. Everything the idiot Pelosi and her cohorts ever dreams of funding is on the list. If they really want economic recovery they will cut taxes across the board and reduce mortgage rates.

  13. tom p says:

    Drew,please explain how 5 billion dollars to ACORN is going to stimulate the economy?

    ZR, you got a cite for that #? Or did you just pull that out of your ass? Are you actually going to tell us that of the $18.7 Billion that REPs find objectional in the stimulus bill (according to Steve Benen) almost a THIRD of it went to Acorn?

    What world do you live on, and why would we want to go there with you?

  14. steve s says:

    1) Drew, please explain how 5 billion dollars to ACORN is going to stimulate the economy? 2) Fact is this is not a stimulous bill it is a spending bill. 3) Everything the idiot Pelosi and her cohorts ever dreams of funding is on the list. 4) If they really want economic recovery they will cut taxes across the board and reduce mortgage rates.
    Posted by Zelsdorf Ragshaft III | February 4, 2009 | 06:24 pm | Permalink

    WOW. 4 sentences, 4 errors. If I commented like that, I’d use a pseudonym too.

  15. steve s says:

    Are you actually going to tell us that of the $18.7 Billion that REPs find objectional in the stimulus bill (according to Steve Benen) almost a THIRD of it went to Acorn?

    What world do you live on, and why would we want to go there with you?
    Posted by tom p | February 4, 2009 | 07:42 pm | Permalink

    That’s more like an intelligence test. If you’re capable of believing that $5 billion in federal money is going to ACORN, you get placed in the special ed programs Forrest Gump placed out of. (aka you’re a member of the GOP base)

  16. steve s says:

    A front-page story in today’s WaPo makes official what had long seemed obvious: “Senate Democratic leaders conceded yesterday that they do not have the votes to pass the stimulus bill as currently written and said that to gain bipartisan support, they will seek to cut provisions that would not provide an immediate boost to the economy.”

    While this might seem to be hair-splitting, the Senate does have the votes to pass the stimulus bill. What they don’t have is the ability to solve the cloture problem. Under cloture, 41 senators can block a bill by promising to filibuster it. If I were the dems, I’d at least reinstitute the old rule that you actually had to filibuster the thing. That way we could get lots of video footage of GOP members babbling on for hours to stop the bill, and make them hold the blame. When the dems were in the minority, and the GOP talking about ‘the nuclear option’ of eliminating the filibuster possibility, I was against it. And I’ve changed my mind. I would approve of the filibuster provision being canceled. You could charge me with partisanship, sure, and I’m probably guilty, but I’d defend it by saying the GOP is simply a ship of fools at this point and whatever we can do to minimize the Joe the Plumber input is good. But we can even sidestep all that, and rewrite the stimulus as part of the several budget bills, which are immune to filibuster. (Not my idea, I read it somewhere yesterday). By canceling the stimulus and writing the stimulus provisions into the ordinary budget legislation, we could circumvent the filibuster potential, and still get done what needs to be done.

    God forbid the GOP still gets to set the fiscal terms. We need the adults back in charge, and we need them now.

  17. G.A.Phillips says:

    God forbid the GOP still gets to set the fiscal terms. We need the adults back in charge, and we need them now.

    lol!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!