Matt HealeyThursday,26 September 2013

The Snap:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51. Congratulations. You have just done something Ted Cruz can’t do. Count to 51.

The Download:

Yesterday the fearless leader Ted Cruz staged a filibuster to attempt to prevent the opening of debate on the continuing resolution bill that passed the House last week. This bill funds the government from October 1 to the end of the year. The bill defunds the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On the surface you would assume that Cruz really must like the ACA. After all, he spoke for 21 hours to prevent the opening of debate on a bill that defunds it. You would, of course, be wrong. He supports the defunding of the ACA. His fear is that the Senate will strip the language that defunds the ACA out of the bill and pass it. He is right — that is exactly what is going to happen. He is powerless to stop it. I suspect that he knows that. After all, despite the sarcasm in the introduction, I suspect he can count to 51. After all, he attended Princeton undergrad rather than one of the “minor Ivies.”

So it is fair to ask what exactly he was trying to accomplish. Generally there are a few reasons to filibuster a bill that you cannot stop. One is to bring media attention to it. If you feel that bad legislation is being passed and that the media and public is not paying enough attention because there is something more interesting going on — like the size of Vanessa Hudgens’ ass —  then the filibuster can be valuable. This is arguably the reason that Rand Paul and Wendy Davis staged their recent filibusters. I suspect that is not the reason Ted staged his. After all, does anyone think this issue has not gotten enough press coverage? Another reason is you hope to convince other legislators to change their vote. This is a long shot in the Senate, as most of the members know how they are going to vote before the vote is called. So what was his goal? I think by this point it is obvious. This was a 21 hour long TV commercial trying to get people to contribute to his presidential run and to increase his name recognition. This is about Iowa and New Hampshire. I suspect it worked. He did get a ton of coverage while he was reading “Green Eggs and Ham.” It remains to be seen if he raised or lowered his profile in the process.

The problem is that this filibuster has delayed the inevitable modification of the bill and eventual passage in the Senate. As a result, it will not pass until this weekend at the earliest. That means it will go back to the House on Monday the 29th, the day before the shutdown day. It is unclear what John Boehner will do at that point. He will have to decide if he wants to call a vote on the Senate version of the bill against the will of the Tea Party caucus — or as I would like to call them, mini-Cruz — or try to negotiate a compromise in 48 hours. I suspect that he will try to negotiate and will fail, resulting a temporary shutdown. So when and if the government is shut down and you are inconvenienced, make sure you remember the noble cause you had to sacrifice for: Ted Cruz’s ego.

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