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In Test Vote, 33 Dems, All GOP Against Tax Cut on First Quarter-Million Dollars

(photo: Thomas Hawk via Flickr)

Before a vote on legislation in the House of Representatives under regular order, you need a vote on the rules for debate. That’s what we just saw with their upcoming vote today on extending the tax cuts put in place by George W. Bush for the first $250,000 of income. And we have the results of that vote. Every Republican opposed, along with 33 Democrats. 18 members, nine in each party, didn’t vote on the rule.

The Democratic no votes included mostly people who lost their election (lame duck Congress members in CAPS):

ADLER, Altmire, BAIRD, BEAN, BERRY, Boren, BOYD, BRIGHT, Chandler, Connolly, DAHLKEMPER, A.DAVIS, ELLSWORTH, HERSETH SANDLIN, Himes, KIRKPATRICK, Lipinski, MARSHALL, Matheson, McIntyre, MINNICK, MITCHELL, Moran, PERRIELLO, Peters, Peterson, POMEROY, Ross, Shuler, SPACE

As expected, Republicans gave the usual line about this being a tax increase on small businesses, etc. I think what the 33 Democratic defections shows a combination of wanting rich people to have tax cuts (Connolly, Moran) and not wanting there to be a vote on the final bill so as not to be tarred as a tax-raiser, despite the fact that the vote cuts taxes for everyone in America. Democrats ingeniously found a work-around that ensures a single vote on just the tax cuts on the first $250,000 of income, without the possibility of a motion to recommit or other amendments.

So there will be a vote, and based on passage of the rule, it’s going to pass along partisan lines. The House will have done its job, again. If we had a unicameral legislature, the House probably wouldn’t have come back for the lame duck, having passed the entire agenda previously.

…interesting how Lamar Alexander telegraphed that Republicans want to protect Wall Street from a tax increase, ay?

UPDATE: Apparently, John Boehner described the procedural maneuvering as chicken crap today. Keep that in mind when the Republican House under him engages in exactly the same technique. I think the Dems showed the way to neutralize the motion to recommit permanently.

Oh, and the motion to recommit itself is chicken crap. It allows the minority party to spring a vote on the opposition, with no warning, without needing to show the legislative language in advance, and attach it to a bill under regular order. I don’t really like the iron-fisted rules of the House and think they could loosen them up a bit, but the motion to recommit is really obstructionist garbage, and it should be neutralized.

UPDATE: I missed some of the C’s as well, thanks to the comments: Cooper, Costa and Costello (all three coming back next year) also voted against the rule.

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David Dayen

David Dayen