This afternoon, House Democrats will hold an up or down vote on vote on President Obama’s plan to extend tax cuts to income below $250,000, and they’ve figured out a way to prevent the Republicans from pulling procedural tricks that might sink it — a straight vote on whether or not wealthy people deserve an additional tax break. Today, at his weekly press conference, House Minority Leader John Boehner compared the move to fertilizer.
“I’m trying to catch my breath so I don’t refer to this maneuver going on today as chickencrap, alright?’ Boehner said. “But this is nonsense.”
Brace yourself for some procedural jargon: Dems once believed they were faced with two mixed options for holding this vote. The first was to hold an up-or-down vote under the normal rules. But that would give Republicans the opportunity to introduce what’s known as a motion to recommit — a procedural right of the minority that would have allowed them to tack an extension of tax cuts for high-income earners on to the legislation.
The second option — suspending the rules — would have foreclosed on that right, but would have required a two-thirds majority of the House for passage: 290 votes, an impossible hurdle.
But Democrats figured out a way to avoid this. They’re attaching their tax cut plan as an amendment to a separate bill [the Airport and Airway Extension Act, to wit]. That legislation already passed the House, and has just been returned from the Senate. The rules say it can’t be recommitted. So the GOP’s hands are tied.
“The election was month ago,” Boehner said. “We’re 23 months from the next election and the political games have already started trying to set up the next election.”
“To roll this vote out really is just — it’s what you think I was going to say anyway.” In other words, “chickencrap.”
Now, Dems did make an end run around the normal rules — because there was no other way they could get their preferred tax cut plan passed. But this really is the purest way to address the question of who in Congress would say no to tax cuts for everybody unless rich people get an extra cherry on top.
Should be interesting.
UPDATE: Watch the video of the incident below:
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.