Weigel

Today’s Senate Stunt Was Brought to You by the American Jobs Act

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, speaks during the National Republican Congressional Committee Election Night Results Watch event in Washington, DC, on November 2, 2010. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

You might hear this line coming from Republicans today:

We offered Democrats a vote on the American Jobs Act, but they declined! Who’s holding up the bill, really?

This is somewhat misleading, if no more misleading than the average occurance that counts for “congressional action” nowadays. What happened was this: Yesterday, Eric Cantor answered “yes” when asked if the entire AJA was “dead.” Today, Mitch McConnell offered to attach the AJA to the pending China currency bill. The tone of his speech introducing this made the intent very clear.

[T]hey’ve been calling for this vote with great repetition. His press secretary said it on October 3, David Plouffe, the senior – David Plouffe said the same thing September 27. David Axlerod, his top strategist called for us to have this vote on September 13. And the President himself, let me count the number of times, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve times the President of the United States over the last few weeks has called on us to have this vote as he put it, “I want congress to pass this jobs bill right away.”

So, Republicans were offering a vote. It was a vote they knew Democrats would lose, because a preponderance of Republicans would filibuster it. (No significant tax reform has been subject to a filibuster for some time. In 2001 and 2003, the Bush tax cuts were passed under reconciliation rules. The 2003 cut passed with a tie-breaking vote from Dick Cheney.) You could call it a “vote on the bill,” but it was actually a cloture vote. It was like the “votes” we’ve seen on judicial nominees for the past decade – opportunities for the Senate to prove that it couldn’t muster a supermajority to get an up-or-down approval vote.

The goal was not to pass anything. It was to change headlines about the House blocking the bill to ones about Harry Reid blocking it.

Mission accomplished: Right after this maneuver, Eric Cantor’s office was able to blast out this press release:

Reid Blocks Vote On Jobs Bill While Obama Blasts House For Not Voting On It