We live by the rules, we die by the rules…

…Let me preface this post by saying that one of the reasons why I love the legislative process is that a large part of it involves strategy and knowing the rules of the game. That’s why I always carry a copy of the Georgia House Rules, the Georgia Senate rules, Robert’s Rules of Order, and the Charter and Bylaws of the Democratic Party of Georgia with me at all times.

Anyways, today made for some interesting times in the United States House of Representatives and the Democratic leadership. As you may know, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich made headlines with his promise to force a House vote on the impeachment of Vice President Cheney today. Well, he made good on his promise and introduced a privileged resolution on the floor of the House.

Here’s where it got interesting…

…When Rep. Kucinich called for the consideration of his impeachment resolution, House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) immediately made a motion to table the measure effectively killing it. Hoyer’s motion was expected to pass overwhelmingly because Republicans being Republicans didn’t want to discuss the impeachment of a member of their own party, and Democrats…well, they didn’t want their more liberal edges showing. Everything seemed to be going Steny Hoyer’s way; the Republicans were voting the way they were supposed to and only a handful of Democrats (about 86 to be exact) were voting against the motion to table.

Then, as the vote started winding down, the Republicans started switching their votes; a slow trickle at first, but then a steady stream. Eventually you had a case where 165 Republicans and 86 Democrats, a majority of the House, were voting against killing the Kucinich impeachment resolution. The final vote on the motion to table was 162 for and 251 against [Source: House Roll Call #1037] meaning that Cheney’s impeachment was still a live issue.

What happened next is nothing short of an amazing testament of what occurs on the House floor when a vote doesn’t go the leadership’s way, and they have to hastily figure out how to re-assert their power. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who was visibly unnerved as being “out-strategerized” by House Minority Leader John Boehner, quickly made a motion to refer Kucinich’s resolution to the House Judiciary Committee. In order to prevent any debate on the motion to commit as well as the larger issue of impeaching Dick Cheney (which the House Democratic leadership did not want), Hoyer also moved the previous question – a motion to cut off debate and proceed immediately to a vote.

By this time, enough arm twisting had gone on to prevent another unexpected vote similar to the one that resulted in the failure of the motion to table. House Democrats fell in line and voted for ordering the previous question and then for referring the Kucinich impeachment resolution to committee [House Roll Call #1038 and #1039].

The end result is that Kucinich’s proposal for Cheney’s impeachment is stuck in committee where it will probably die, but the Republicans made the Democrats work for killing that measure.

Moral of the story?

Well, the moral is that Democrats need to learn the rules real fast or else risk more potentially embarrassing moments at the hands of the Republican minority. The Republicans knew exactly what they were doing by voting in favor of the tabling motion and then switching their votes over to the “Nay” column in an attempt to force the Democrats into dealing with the issue of impeaching the Vice President.

I may not agree with many of the Republicans’ policies, but I have to admit, when it comes to knowing the rules of the game, these guys know their stuff.

[A LITTLE EPILOGUE]: In case you’re wondering how Georgia’s Congressional representatives voted in this matter, here it is:

Motion to Table

John Barrow – voted yes
Sanford Bishop – voted yes
Paul Broun – voted no
Nathan Deal – voted no
Phil Gingrey – voted no
Hank Johnson – voted no
Jack Kingston – voted no
John Lewis – voted no
John Linder – voted no
Jim Marshall – voted yes
Tom Price – voted no
David Scott – voted yes
Lynn Westmoreland – did not vote

Ordering the Previous Question (cutting off debate of the motion to commit)

John Barrow – voted yes
Sanford Bishop – voted yes
Paul Broun – voted no
Nathan Deal – voted no
Phil Gingrey – voted no
Hank Johnson – voted yes
Jack Kingston – voted no
John Lewis – voted yes
John Linder – voted no
Jim Marshall – voted yes
Tom Price – voted no
David Scott – voted yes
Lynn Westmoreland – did not vote

Motion to Commit

John Barrow – voted yes
Sanford Bishop – voted yes
Paul Broun – voted no
Nathan Deal – voted no
Phil Gingrey – voted no
Hank Johnson – voted yes
Jack Kingston – voted no
John Lewis – voted yes
John Linder – voted no
Jim Marshall – voted yes
Tom Price – voted no
David Scott – voted yes
Lynn Westmoreland – did not vote

5 comments

  1. Rick Day says:

    I like to see it rather as Representatives being able to say in the future that they voted ‘to impeach’ Cheney, when the files are all unlocked and The Truth ™ emerges.

    Hypothetically, who would Jawge pick to replace Cheney?

  2. Andre Walker says:

    Victor,

    I don’t wear fitted hats because it’s next to impossible to find a size 8 fitted hat. Even with the adjustable hats, I have to put on the last two “clicks” in order for the hat to fit.

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