The Return of Hypocrisy as Parliamentary Procedure

Games legislators play...

The Politico reports:  In past, Democrats embraced policy riders

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and President Barack Obama hate policy riders. They have no place in spending bills, the top Democrats have said during the latest budget debate.

[…]

Republicans say that’s a different tune than he was singing in 2009, when he, President Barack Obama and then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi loaded such riders onto a government-funding bill similar to the one now being negotiated. A senior Democratic aide said the two aren’t comparable, and Republican Speaker John Boehner, who is now trying to preserve riders, has blasted them in the past, too.

All of this refers to the current debate over passing a budget deal to fund the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year.  I have already made known my basic position on the situation and Doug Mataconis has discussed at least one of the riders in question.

All of this reminds me of something Norm Ornstein wrote when the Republicans were up in arms over the usage of a “self-executing rule” during the health care debate:

Any veteran observer of Congress is used to the rampant hypocrisy over the use of parliamentary procedures that shifts totally from one side to the other as a majority moves to minority status, and vice versa.

Indeed.  More of the quote and some other thoughts from me at the time from a post from last March at PoliBlog:  The Politics of the Legislative Process. (Another example that comes to mind was the debate over the reconciliation process and health care.)

My point here, by the way, is less that I am taking either party to task for the, um, facility with which they change their minds over various parliamentary maneuvers, but rather to take the opportunity to highlight, how often this goes on.  It is part of legislative politics.

Having said that, I don’t see the riders in question being worth a government shutdown.

FILED UNDER: US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Wayne says:

    Re “Having said that, I don’t see the riders in question being worth a government shutdown”

    So the Democrats should give in and allow them? :):):)

  2. legion says:

    There’s a really big difference between _using_ policy riders and being willing (enthusiastic, even) about shutting down the government for penny-ante BS like defunding NPR and Planned Parenthood. One side is gaming the system. The other side is actively trying to destroy the system. Guess which is which.

  3. ponce says:

    Considering our system of government is the politician who can convince a majority of not too informed voters to vote for them wins, it Seems inevitable that we’ll a certain amount of hypocrisy from our politicians.

  4. Wayne says:

    Re “being willing (enthusiastic, even) about shutting down the government for penny-ante BS like defunding NPR and Planned Parenthood.”

    It is a shame that the Democrats are willing to shut down the government over funding for those programs.

  5. snjmom says:

    It is a shame that the Democrats are willing to shut down the government over funding for those programs.

    It’s a shame that the GOP is willing to shut it down in order to defund NPR and Planned Parenthood. After killing ACORN, they must think that they are unstoppable.

  6. wr says:

    Well said, Wayne. Spoken like a real mafioso thug. “Nice store here. Too bad you’d let it get burned down over a little payment every week.”

  7. ponce says:

    “It’s a shame that the GOP is willing to shut it down…”

    Well, the fringe right Republicans think people don’t really like government services. I think they’re about to find out they’re wrong.

  8. Douglas says:

    You pick the hill you die on. Those riders seem to be. . . poorly chosen hills especially with military funding being sacrificed, in favor of the pittance that is CPB and PP

  9. anjin-san says:

    Six months in from the midterms and the GOP is well down the road to self destruction. I thought it would take at least a year…

  10. Matt says:

    It’s a shame that the GOP is willing to shut it down in order to defund NPR and Planned Parenthood. After killing ACORN, they must think that they are unstoppable.

    Viewed another way, one could say it’s a shame that NPR and PP are more important to the Democrats than the troops currently engaged in three wars.

    Just sayin’.

  11. Herb says:

    “it’s a shame that NPR and PP are more important to the Democrats than the troops currently engaged in three wars.”

    Well, that’s one way to spin it…..

    It’s not a zero-sum game. We don’t have to pick whether we want defense or a CPB. We just need to be smarting in allocating our resources to both. If this impending shutdown was actually about the proper way to allocate resources, then the conversation would be a little bit different.

    If it’s an extreme tactic designed to accomplish limited results (small budgets cuts, winning the 2012 election) then it’s a bit overboard, don’t ya think?

  12. john personna says:

    It’s a shame that the GOP is willing to shut it down in order to defund NPR and Planned Parenthood. After killing ACORN, they must think that they are unstoppable.

    I think Wayne, that you’d need the Dems to be ADDING this funding for them to be the bad actors here. That’s right. You’d need them to be breaking the deal by sneaking in something new.

    The Repub gambit is just last minute pettiness. And because it is last minute, and petty, there is no reason for the Dems to respect it.

    Indeed, they’d look pretty bad if they rolled over.

  13. john personna says:

    BTW, Marginal Revolution says David Brooks nails it. The claim is that when they accepted full extension of the Bush tax cuts the Dems stopped being serious players.

    I think a lot of us felt that way on some level.

  14. Sorry, it’s no longer the extension of the Bush tax cuts. The proper term is the Obama tax cuts, unless of course you have to blame Bush for what Obama does.

  15. Dave Schuler says:

    I think that’s about right, jp. If you don’t want to be known as the party of tax and spend becoming the party of borrow and spend is no improvement.

  16. john personna says:

    Charles, that is about the most morally bankrupt argument you could make. Congrats.

  17. john personna says:

    (Note the the slow reader, it probably would be fair to call them the Bush/Obama cuts at this point. Joint ownership.)

  18. Wayne says:

    The word hypocrisy in the title is so fitting of many of the posters . My intent in my above postings was to show the hypocrisy. If you blame one side for shutting for shutting down the government for penny-ante BS then it is hypocritical not to blame the other side. Unfortunately the blinders are on so tight on so many that they will never see it.

    JP
    However you want to spin it, the Democrats are holding up funding for the troops so that NPR won’t be defunded as the Republicans are in trying to defund it. Assuming of course the Dems would fund the troops without the riders which is an assumption. I’m not sure why the Senate don’t try to take out the riders and send the bill back to the house.

  19. legion says:

    So, the GOP deliberately links PP and NPR funding to paying the troops, and then sock puppets like Wayne and Matt blame the Dems for sacrificing military pay.

    Next week, the GOP links unemployment funding to military pay, and calls the Dems traitors for putting unemployed slackers ahead of paying our troops.

    After that, they link _any damn thing they want_ to military pay, and threaten to call the President names if he doesn’t do whatever they want.

    These are the tactics of terrorists and mafia thugs. Welcome to the new GOP.

  20. Wayne says:

    Same tactics the Democrats used. I just pointing out it takes two to tango. I guess that is too hard of concept for some to understand.

    Again why don’t the Democrat control Senate strip out the riders and send it back to the House?

  21. Again why don’t the Democrat control Senate strip out the riders and send it back to the House?

    The question presumes that the Republicans in the Senate would allow that maneuver.

  22. Wayne says:

    Not really. If the Democrats tried and the Republican filibuster it then the blame would fall on the Republicans. Although not passing it because of the “petty” riders still fall on the Democrats. My suspicion is the bill may pass as is with Democrat support.

  23. legion says:

    Same tactics the Democrats used.

    Ummmm, no. Dems aren’t the ones insisting on shutting down the government. Dems aren’t the ones crippling the country for riders covering purely base-serving ideological points that will actively harm thousands of Americans, while cutting less then a single percent of the budget. Dems aren’t the ones literally leading their followers in chants of ‘shut it down’. Dems aren’t the ones who shut down government last time, either.

    This is not a ‘both sides do it’ situation. This is the GOP choosing to be bastards.

  24. legion says:

    If the Democrats tried and the Republican filibuster it then the blame would fall on the Republicans. Although not passing it because of the “petty” riders still fall on the Democrats.

    Way to move the goalposts there, Wayne.

  25. Wayne says:

    One more thing, if they were successful in stripping the riders, the House GOP would have the excuse that at least they tried. Of course it is unlikely the Democrats would give the House GOP that small victory. Politics as usual.

  26. Wayne says:

    Re “Dems aren’t the ones insisting on shutting down the government”

    Yes they are.

  27. wr says:

    Wayne — Try to follow. It’s not that complicated. The reason the Senate doesn’t strip the riders out and send the bill back to the House is that the House Republicans have stated that they won’t vote for any budget that does not include these riders. So the entire exercise would be a waste of everyone’s time, just another stupid game. Is that clear?

  28. Wayne says:

    Wr
    You don’t know for sure until you try. This attitude of” it pointless let us do nothing and\or go on vacation” is B.S.

    Right now if the Democrats could vote for the House bill and the President sign the bill into law that would avoid a government shutdown. They don’t want to. I understand that. However they just like the Republicans are responsible for actions or lack of.

    The Democrat controlled Senate hasn’t even brought anything up for a vote. Even if the House wanted to they have no bill from the Senate to vote on. All they can do is pass more bills in hope that the Senate will vote on one of them someday.

  29. Rick Almeida says:

    The Democrat controlled Senate hasn’t even brought anything up for a vote. Even if the House wanted to they have no bill from the Senate to vote on.

    I understand that reality has no place here, but the Senate voted down the House budget plan on 9 March 2011. At the same taime, they failed to pass a Democratic alternative as well.

  30. mantis says:

    The Democrat controlled Senate hasn’t even brought anything up for a vote.

    You lie!

  31. mantis says:

    I think the key point to take away here is that the Republican Party’s main concern is that more American women die. That’s what they want, and they’re willing to shut down the government to get it.

  32. matt says:

    Wayne : Come on are you seriously trying to claim that the budget process is started by the senate now??

  33. Wayne says:

    Rick
    Did the Senate vote on the military spending bill with the riders on it? Have they voted on budget bills in the pass? Yes and if you go back far enough they even passed a few. They haven’t in the last month though and haven’t voted on the military continuation. They also haven’t passed a competing budget bill.

    Matt
    Are you seriously trying to claim the Senate isn’t involved in the budget process? Are you seriously trying to claim the House hasn’t started and passed several budget bills in the last month? Are you seriously trying to claim the budget process starts and end with the House?

    Manitis
    If you want to see what a big liar looks like look in the mirror. The the Republican Party’s main concern is that more American women die. Talk about a lie.

    It is amazing the liberas\democrats can’t admit their part in the process or that they are part of the reason the government might shut down.

  34. george says:

    The Return of Hypocrisy as Parliamentary Procedure

    Was there a time in the last few decades when it wasn’t normal procedure by both parties? I must slept through it.

  35. Rick Almeida says:

    Wayne,

    You said:

    The Democrat controlled Senate hasn’t even brought anything up for a vote.

    And you know that’s incorrect. Don’t move the goalposts, just admit you hyperbolized and move on.