Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How gun bans and healthcare bills happen.

First, remember the health care bill, where they needed 60 votes to continue "discussing" the bill (and to block a promised Republican philibuster attempt)? Harry Reid cut a deal with Nebraska Senator, Ben Nelson, giving him the Cornhusker Kickback (aka the Nebraska Compromise), to "allow discussion to continue". Mr. Nelson probably thought if he didn't like the final version, he could vote against it, and they wouldn't have their 60 to pass it, but at least he got a sweet deal for his constituents regardless.

What actually happened? The bill was discussed, other lawmakers removed the cornhusker kickback from the final version, changed the rules so they only needed a simple majority to pass the healthcare bill, the Nebraska Senator voted against it, but rather than it dying from a philibuster before ever proceeding with discussion, it passed with simple majority.


Nelson voted against the reconciliation bill, but as the bill was not subject to a filibuster, it was able to pass without his vote.

Now, consider HR 3355 (103rd Congress, 1993-1994) commonly known as the "Assault Weapon Ban" (passed with the feel good name of "Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994").


Nov 3, 1993: This bill passed in the House of Representatives by voice vote. A record of each representative’s position was not kept.
Nov 19, 1993: This bill passed in the Senate with changes by roll call vote. The totals were 95 Ayes, 4 Nays, 1 Present/Not Voting.
Voice vote... no record... nice. But look at the Senate votes!!! 95 ayes, 4 nays... ONLY FOUR voted against.


Two Republicans, two Democrats (one from Illinois no less) voted against it. This vote allowed the bill to be sent back to committee's before going to the House to reconcile it with the Senate version (sound familiar) and go up for final vote in August of '94. There, the Republicans in the House and Senate took a stand against it, but too late.

Aug 21, 1994: ...A conference report resolving those differences passed in the House of Representatives, paving the way for enactment of the bill, by roll call vote. The totals were 235 Ayes, 195 Nays, 5 Present/Not Voting.
Aug 25, 1994: ...A conference report resolving those differences passed in the Senate, paving the way for enactment of the bill, by roll call vote. The totals were 61 Ayes, 38 Nays, 1 Present/Not Voting.
So... do not think that we are above/beyond having our rights successfully assaulted. People play the game, vote to give opportunity to "discuss" the issues, but once that is done, the rules of the game can change, and you get stuck with garbage like the assault weapon ban and the health care bill.

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