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Late Night: The Spirit Is Willing, But the Execution Is Weak

Democrats await the success of their legislative scheming (photo: Flavio Ensiki)

It was both heartening and surprising to read this yesterday (via TPMDC):

Democrats in both the House and Senate are pressing Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to take up legislation that would suspend congressional pay in the event of a government shutdown.

… Weeks ago, the Senate unanimously passed legislation to precisely this effect. And now, both House and Senate Dems are asking for a vote on that bill in the House.

Could it be true that our famously spineless Democrats might pull off the type of meaningless-but-politically-effective grandstanding that Republicans manage to get away with all the time?

Well, not quite, unfortunately.  The Dems forgot that while the GOP has no problem playing Calvinball with legislation on their own, they won’t hesitate to be sticklers for the rule of law when the other guys try to play the same game.

As Felicia Sonmez reports for the Washington Post, a Republican congressman, Dan Lungren, asserted that the Department of Justice had informed him via that the measure was unconstitutional… and, well, the GOP House leadership simply couldn’t bring itself to consider a measure that was unconstitutional!  (Never mind that the Republicans had been cheerfully touting their own unconstitutional bill on the subject just the day before.)

Since this whole government-pay stunt got aired out during the 1995 government shutdown debate, couldn’t the Dems have done their homework a little better?  You know, instead of trying to ban their own paychecks, maybe pledge to donate them to vulnerable federal workers who would be losing theirs?  Or something?


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Swopa has been sharing prescient, if somewhat anal-retentive, analysis and garden-variety mockery with Internet readers since 1995 or so, when he began debunking the fantasies of Clinton-scandal aficionados on Usenet. He is currently esconced as the primary poster at Needlenose (