Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

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Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby Angua » Wed Jun 22, 2016 9:35 pm UTC

So, this is a thing that is currently happening.

I'm torn. On one hand, it's good that the democrats are making a stand (as it were) on this issue. On the other hand, American politics just gets harder and harder to get anything done without a super majority.
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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby elasto » Thu Jun 23, 2016 3:12 am UTC

Angua wrote:American politics just gets harder and harder to get anything done without a super majority.

It comes from politicians always thinking about votes and voters being totally uninterested in rewarding bipartisanship.

Realistically a good idea can come from anywhere and you should vote for a representative who will weigh each issue carefully and vote his conscience. He should be an expert at governing - at being able to judge if a law will achieve what it sets out to, and if what it sets out to do is smart - not an expert at toeing the party line.

Fat chance of that though.

Even when the political process throws up the odd surprise candidate who won't tow the party line (eg. Trump), it's rare that he'd actually be a competent and wise leader (as opposed to simply a wiseass...)

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby morriswalters » Thu Jun 23, 2016 3:37 am UTC

Angua wrote: On the other hand, American politics just gets harder and harder to get anything done without a super majority.
The are 323 million or so assholes in the US or about twice that in elbows. Each, absolutely positive, that if they did it her way, things would be better. It's a wonder the system functions at all. But on a lot of levels it does. It might be an open question in terms of how much longer it will though.

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby sardia » Thu Jun 23, 2016 5:58 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:
Angua wrote: On the other hand, American politics just gets harder and harder to get anything done without a super majority.
The are 323 million or so assholes in the US or about twice that in elbows. Each, absolutely positive, that if they did it her way, things would be better. It's a wonder the system functions at all. But on a lot of levels it does. It might be an open question in terms of how much longer it will though.

Not everyone is an asshole, for one thing voter turnout isn't anywhere near 100%. More importantly, you're not describing the actual problems the US is experiencing.
Angua, how hard it is to get anything done probably plateaued during the 2014 elections. More importantly, you're too focused on Congress when the Executive and Judicial branch are filling the power vacuum(for better and worse).

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby morriswalters » Thu Jun 23, 2016 10:19 am UTC

sardia wrote:Not everyone is an asshole, for one thing voter turnout isn't anywhere near 100%. More importantly, you're not describing the actual problems the US is experiencing.
Humor escapes you. Everyone has one(assholes that is) as well as two elbows. That's simple anatomy. Having a country with as many people as the US does, make governing unwieldy. And it shows. I doubt the founding fathers anticipated a population this large.

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Jun 23, 2016 11:25 am UTC

For every person, everywhere, you can also guarantee that, no matter how much on the same frequency as the legislature, they'll largely forget the 'good decisions' made and yet notice each and every 'wrong' direction. And a significant number of them will then complain that their opinions aren't being represented, on issues where majority opinion (or majority empowered opinion, filtered further through lobbyists1) is actually being served, not that supporters of that opposing position necessarily notice their 'win' next time they're the ones being slighted...

(Tomorrow, watch the butthurt from one side (or both!) here in the UK. But that's already got its own thread. Just making a predicted example.)


1 Can be a problem, but as long as there's equal and opposite lobbying tendencies, it should come out as neutral. Big problems when the Haves (controlling or leading their own lobbies) are domineering over the Have Nots (all they have is a vote). But that's going more complicated than I had ever intended to drill into this issue for. :P

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jun 23, 2016 1:48 pm UTC

So....the Democrats plan to get the Republicans from getting any useful work done, eh?

Jokes on them. The Republicans have already been there for years.

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby KnightExemplar » Thu Jun 23, 2016 6:45 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:So....the Democrats plan to get the Republicans from getting any useful work done, eh?


Paul Ryan just held votes on other issues while the Democrats were sitting on the floor. They're not really preventing... anything... really.

I dunno, seems kinda pointless to me. A nearly equivalent bill was defeated in the Senate. Even if the Republican House somehow passed the bill, it'd only get defeated again in the Senate. Its not even a unified concept on the left. The ACLU is against this gun bill.
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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jun 23, 2016 6:48 pm UTC

Huh. Yeah, I'm not really getting what they hope to accomplish here, then.

Sit on the floor if you want, I guess.

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby KnightExemplar » Thu Jun 23, 2016 7:09 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Huh. Yeah, I'm not really getting what they hope to accomplish here, then.

Sit on the floor if you want, I guess.


Really funny to watch though.

https://twitter.com/CNN/status/745805728326225920

Until you remember they were doing it for 26 hours.

For more, see CSPAN: http://www.c-span.org/video/?411500-103 ... in-protest

There's a bit of disruption. Paul Ryan recessed until July. So tomorrow's session has basically been canceled because of the sit-in. But still, there didn't seem to be too many issues with regards to just moving forward with votes and whatever while the sit-in was taking place.

IMO, its more funny that Paul Ryan's idea was to just brazenly continue forward with the agenda despite the protests. Still, the Democrats cut out most of the legislative day tomorrow. So the disruption tactic ultimately worked to some degree. Still it looks like they got a Zika bill passed through all the ruckus though.

EDIT: apologies for edits. I'm just double-checking some facts here.
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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jun 23, 2016 7:37 pm UTC

Looks like it's over now. No gun control vote, so don't think it can really be counted as a Dem victory. Maybe if they held the committee, they could do something with it, but I highly doubt that further floor sitting is going to accomplish much.

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby KnightExemplar » Thu Jun 23, 2016 7:45 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Looks like it's over now. No gun control vote, so don't think it can really be counted as a Dem victory. Maybe if they held the committee, they could do something with it, but I highly doubt that further floor sitting is going to accomplish much.


I think the point was for the media attention and a publicity stunt. People are certainly talking about this event. It also gives something for the Democrats to unite over and work together on.
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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby ObsessoMom » Fri Jun 24, 2016 1:22 am UTC

Well, they're getting publicity, but it's definitely not good:

The New York Times: Three Separate, Equal, and Dysfunctional Branches of Government

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jun 24, 2016 12:47 pm UTC

Yeah, I doubt this'll make them look good.

Non-violent resistance is the theme they were aiming for, and that's fine, but...it looks different when you hold a position of power than when you don't. This is really no different that previous Republican shenanigans, when you think about it(albeit not equal in scale, yet, I think). And they were not exactly showered with respect for their stubbornness.

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Jun 24, 2016 1:37 pm UTC

I think this is unfortunately no different than when the Republicans shut things down, except this time I agree with their MO.

Our government is borked. Especially because they stopped due to the like, full week vacation they all get between now and the 4th?
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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jun 24, 2016 1:39 pm UTC

Look, some causes are important, but vacation is more important than all of them.

Even the deliciously forbidden sustenance of chik-fil-a is not enough to sustain them through that.

Or is it now okay again for leftists to stop caring about the chicken issue? I have trouble keeping track of the moral fads.

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby sardia » Fri Jun 24, 2016 2:10 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Look, some causes are important, but vacation is more important than all of them.

Even the deliciously forbidden sustenance of chik-fil-a is not enough to sustain them through that.

Or is it now okay again for leftists to stop caring about the chicken issue? I have trouble keeping track of the moral fads.

Gays are a losing issue for Republicans, so they don't bring it up unless they really have to. That's why it's faded, there's less people to fight.

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby Diadem » Fri Jun 24, 2016 2:50 pm UTC

ObsessoMom wrote:Well, they're getting publicity, but it's definitely not good:

The New York Times: Three Separate, Equal, and Dysfunctional Branches of Government

Increasingly I find myself wondering if the world always this dysfunctional or if it is just me getting older and more jaded?

Also, Choice quote from that article:
“This is the people’s House, this is Congress, the House of Representatives, the oldest democracy in the world and they’re descending it into chaos,” Speaker Paul D. Ryan told reporters Thursday

The oldest democracy in the world? That's an interesting claim in a country that has only been around for 240 years. Idiot.
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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby KnightExemplar » Fri Jun 24, 2016 3:51 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Look, some causes are important, but vacation is more important than all of them.


To be fair, most lawmakers spend the recess talking with their constituents. It only makes sense for Congresspeople to fly back home every now and then and meet with the people they represent.

Congress shouldn't be in session when all the California representatives are on the other side of the country, ya know?
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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby cyanyoshi » Fri Jun 24, 2016 7:30 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:Also, Choice quote from that article:
“This is the people’s House, this is Congress, the House of Representatives, the oldest democracy in the world and they’re descending it into chaos,” Speaker Paul D. Ryan told reporters Thursday

The oldest democracy in the world? That's an interesting claim in a country that has only been around for 240 years. Idiot.

Sure, for some definition of "oldest" and some definition of "democracy".

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Jun 24, 2016 8:16 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Or is it now okay again for leftists to stop caring about the chicken issue? I have trouble keeping track of the moral fads.

Its statements like this that make have a hard time taking your contributions seriously. Leftists getting bent out of shape over 'moral fads'? How's that whole treatment of women thing treating you 'rightists', or you know... meh, fuck it, nevermind.

Diadem wrote:Also, Choice quote from that article:
The notion of Republicans being pissy because democrats do something to shut down the government is typical hypocrisy.
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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jun 24, 2016 8:20 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Or is it now okay again for leftists to stop caring about the chicken issue? I have trouble keeping track of the moral fads.

Its statements like this that make have a hard time taking your contributions seriously. Leftists getting bent out of shape over 'moral fads'? How's that whole treatment of women thing treating you 'rightists', or you know... meh, fuck it, nevermind.


The point is not "they mistreat people", because, seriously, both sides do that.

The "fad" label is about the short duration before declaring something else a moral crisis.

Diadem wrote:Also, Choice quote from that article:
The notion of Republicans being pissy because democrats do something to shut down the government is typical hypocrisy.


Republicans are, at most, mildly annoyed. More amused/mocking. And the government is hardly "shut down".

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby KnightExemplar » Fri Jun 24, 2016 8:59 pm UTC

The Democrats do have one point that they can push: that the vote should just happen anyway.

Its not like they're actually asking for the legislation to pass. They're just asking for the bill to be brought before the House. Paul Ryan can bang the gavel, "Vote is on the table. I hear 300+ Nays. Nays have it, bill is voted down".
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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jun 24, 2016 9:10 pm UTC

Why?

Why is this bill immune to the committee process, unlike every other bill that dies in committee?

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby Diadem » Fri Jun 24, 2016 9:49 pm UTC

Why not?

Is there any reason why the Republicans aren't just saying "You want vote? Ok. Vote's no. Kthxbye".

I get that it's all about scoring political points, but how is the game scored that not allowing a bill on the floor scores more points than voting it down?
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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby KnightExemplar » Fri Jun 24, 2016 9:54 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Why?

Why is this bill immune to the committee process, unlike every other bill that dies in committee?


A very good point that I have no answer to. Lol.

Diadem wrote:Why not?


Congress has a very limited amount of time. The committee process is designed to only send through bills that actually have a chance. The equivalent bill died in the Senate, so there's no chance that this bill would pass even if the Republican-controlled House somehow managed to pass it.

It'd be a waste of time to bring it up.
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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby Diadem » Fri Jun 24, 2016 10:01 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:Congress has a very limited amount of time. The committee process is designed to only send through bills that actually have a chance. The equivalent bill died in the Senate, so there's no chance that this bill would pass even if the Republican-controlled House somehow managed to pass it.

It'd be a waste of time to bring it up.

That's an excuse, not a reason. There is not a single politician on other side of the aisle who actually cares about that.
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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby KnightExemplar » Fri Jun 24, 2016 10:33 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:
KnightExemplar wrote:Congress has a very limited amount of time. The committee process is designed to only send through bills that actually have a chance. The equivalent bill died in the Senate, so there's no chance that this bill would pass even if the Republican-controlled House somehow managed to pass it.

It'd be a waste of time to bring it up.

That's an excuse, not a reason. There is not a single politician on other side of the aisle who actually cares about that.


Lets talk technical here.

What is the point of bringing up the hypothetical bill? Its not going to pass with the 300 some Republicans in the House. No amendments will be made to improve the bill, there's no bi-partisan coalition (like there was in the Senate) to try and work through the bill and make it acceptable for the majority party.

Why bring up a bill when there's no chance for passage, and no chance for amendments? And even IF the bill passes, there's no chance at all that it'd pass to the Senate anyway.
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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby morriswalters » Sat Jun 25, 2016 12:38 am UTC

Never underestimate the obvious. It makes the Dems look like they are doing something. And It gives the Speaker hemorrhoids. :lol:

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby Mauthe Dhoo » Sat Jun 25, 2016 1:05 am UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Why?

Why is this bill immune to the committee process, unlike every other bill that dies in committee?


A very good point that I have no answer to. Lol.

Congress has a very limited amount of time. The committee process is designed to only send through bills that actually have a chance. The equivalent bill died in the Senate, so there's no chance that this bill would pass even if the Republican-controlled House somehow managed to pass it.

It'd be a waste of time to bring it up.


I have an answer! I have an answer!

How about "The committee process should be designed to perform its actual purpose of conducting legal and factual analysis to determine whether a bill, if passed, would cause its intended consequences, and workshopping it into a functional form so that it can be submitted to the House for consideration on its policy merits, rather than what the committee process has been mutated into in reality, which is a misdirection trick to squirrel away business that is politically inconvenient for the controlling party"?

Sure, symbolic gestures like this calling attention to systemic failures can be lame. But Congress has all the time in the world to do a good job. It's naive to assume it will spontaneously reform on its own, but it's craven to talk as if the status quo is the way things are meant to be.

Bills should be voted down on their merits, out in the light of day. A law degree shouldn't be required to comprehend the pending business of a legislature.

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby KnightExemplar » Sun Jun 26, 2016 2:58 pm UTC

Mauthe Dhoo wrote:
KnightExemplar wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Why?

Why is this bill immune to the committee process, unlike every other bill that dies in committee?


A very good point that I have no answer to. Lol.

Congress has a very limited amount of time. The committee process is designed to only send through bills that actually have a chance. The equivalent bill died in the Senate, so there's no chance that this bill would pass even if the Republican-controlled House somehow managed to pass it.

It'd be a waste of time to bring it up.


I have an answer! I have an answer!

How about "The committee process should be designed to perform its actual purpose of conducting legal and factual analysis to determine whether a bill, if passed, would cause its intended consequences, and workshopping it into a functional form so that it can be submitted to the House for consideration on its policy merits, rather than what the committee process has been mutated into in reality, which is a misdirection trick to squirrel away business that is politically inconvenient for the controlling party"?


What are you talking about? The bill was discussed in a Republican controlled committee. They've come to the conclusion that hypothetically punishing gun owners who are suspected of terrorism is a bad idea. Because it goes against "Innocent until proven guilty", and putting all the power in the executive branch goes against separation of powers and checks-and-balances.

Everyone in Congress knows the argument on both sides. Everyone knows the consequences of a bill like this. The only question is whether or not the bill will pass. And no, the votes aren't there. Republicans control the House by a wide margin. Republicans control the Senate by a wide margin.

Second: its not really the "committee" that we're worried about. Its Paul Ryan. The Speaker of the House ultimately controls which bills are discussed. Paul Ryan claims that not enough votes were given to bring the bill to the floor. So the bill died. Of course, it may go through the Committee process as well (but due to the overwhelming number of Republicans in the House, all committees are controlled by Republicans). Furthermore, these rules are themselves discussed by the Rule Committee (currently held by... Republicans), and can otherwise be changed as well.

Or is it somehow a surprise to you that Republicans are pro-gun? Mind you, there are PLENTY of Senators (who are elected on a state-based basis, and are therefore not subject to Gerrymandering issues) who blocked the equivalent bill in the Senate if you feel like voting someone out. There's plenty of voting action and responsibility that was taken here.

Republicans == pro-Gun. So, they killed the bill. Its really that simple, and shouldn't be a surprise. An overwhelming number of Americans voted for Republicans and they're doing what they can to stop gun-control legislation. You can disagree with them on it, but you really shouldn't expect things to go differently as long as they're in the majority.
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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby Mauthe Dhoo » Sun Jun 26, 2016 3:20 pm UTC

No, KnightExemplar, I am not surprised that Republicans are pro-gun. : /

I wasn't complaining that the gun bill should pass. I was complaining that Congressional committees should not be designed for the controlling party to decide what is and is not a good idea - they are meant to vet facts and consequences, not to legislate on those consequences. The Speaker's office fails in the same way since it's essentially the clearinghouse for the controlling party's control. This isn't a particularly partisan complaint - both parties pull this shit. It's been ingrained in the system. To my mind, so many countless bills dying in committee is the number one symptom of the systematic failure of the legislature. The fact that consideration in a Republican-controlled committee made the bill a foregone conclusion is wrong, regardless of the topic of the bill. If bringing it to the floor and voting it down would be politically harmful to the controlling party because of public opposition, then the controlling party shouldn't be able to squirrel it away - it subverts the representative purpose of the legislature.

Oh, and pragmatic arguments about wasting valuable legislative time really do fall flat when their tactic to avoid this time wasting vote is to go on vacation. Like you said, everyone knows all the arguments - no one is going home to connect with the constituency and refine their future voting priorities.

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jun 27, 2016 2:04 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:Why not?

Is there any reason why the Republicans aren't just saying "You want vote? Ok. Vote's no. Kthxbye".

I get that it's all about scoring political points, but how is the game scored that not allowing a bill on the floor scores more points than voting it down?


Bills that hit the floor get discussed, voted on, chews on time. The committee process exists to reduce the burden on that, and to have a more limited pool of people look into things and see if they're reasonable before wasting everyone's time on it. Other than this, there really isn't much point to committees.

Mauthe Dhoo wrote:How about "The committee process should be designed to perform its actual purpose of conducting legal and factual analysis to determine whether a bill, if passed, would cause its intended consequences, and workshopping it into a functional form so that it can be submitted to the House for consideration on its policy merits, rather than what the committee process has been mutated into in reality, which is a misdirection trick to squirrel away business that is politically inconvenient for the controlling party"?


Committees can and do axe bills all the time. They are not required to somehow smith every single bill into a good idea that causes only it's intended consequences(I have doubts that this is even possible).

And obviously, the republican controlled committee is opposed to these bills. They're not "politically inconvenient". Republicans do not generally lose power for opposing gun control. It's just an obvious ideological difference. You should also not be surprised if a democrat committee blocks bills that oppose their core principles and beliefs. That's...what they were elected to do.

Fundamentally disagree with /= politically inconvenient.

Mauthe Dhoo wrote:Oh, and pragmatic arguments about wasting valuable legislative time really do fall flat when their tactic to avoid this time wasting vote is to go on vacation. Like you said, everyone knows all the arguments - no one is going home to connect with the constituency and refine their future voting priorities.


....the Democrats are obviously wasting time here. Going on vacation is more of "annoyed at Democrats". It isn't a means to avoid the vote, they could stay in session and still not vote.

You seem to think it's somehow a Republican duty to oppose their own interests, and those of the people they represent. And that they should suddenly abandon entirely normal practices to give the Democrats a shot. This is...odd.

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby Mauthe Dhoo » Mon Jun 27, 2016 3:25 pm UTC

Shockingly, I actually don't think that, Tyndmyr. A useful heuristic to avoid sounding condescending and shallow is to start at the assumption that the people around you probably don't hold patently self-contradictory or idiotic positions, and work from there.

Maybe there is a miscommunication. I'm not using some convoluted rhetorical technique to say some bill I wanted passed should have been passed when it wasn't. I'm not a supporter of the particular bills this sit-in was about. I'm talking about the failure of the Congress to do its job competently - its a pretty popular line of thinking! The "normal practices" are broken.

Yes, committees can and do axe bills. It's no surprise when Democratic or Republican controlled committees shelve legislation that runs against their platform, using the rules that have been refined and refined over time to help them do that. I'm saying they should not do that. Whether or not you think it "is even possible," the definitional purpose of these Congressional committees is informational and technical, not administrative. This is a basic, uncontroversial fact about any institution organized under the same parliamentary principles that "Robert's Rules of Order" writes about. Committees make recommendation, which the body accepts or not. That's why when a bill does make it to the floor it's called reporting out of committee. Decisions are made on the record on the floor of the body for all to see, not just trailing off sub silentio into inactivity on a committee's calendar.

Committees hold hearings, do markups, draft reports, and report out bills. Yes, in an age when fundamentally vapid, grandstanding, or weather-ballooning bills are presented at ridiculous rates, committees logically also take on a filtering role* - but that obviously isn't the case for a bill that is front and center in an ongoing national debate. Bills may die in committee for all sorts of pragmatic reasons, but no bill should die in committee because the controlling party fundamentally disagrees with it. That absolutely is not what anyone in Congress was elected to do.

And it really is bad for the system, bad for representative democracy, when the controlling party can use committee referral to avoid votes that would hurt them in the public eye, because floor votes are publicized precisely in order to hold the politicians accountable to the public eye. If it didn't matter, than like Diadem (and KnightExemplar, originally) said, it would be trivially easy to go to the floor and vote this bill down. Don't forget that ideas like banning sales to people on certain watchlists held considerable public support at this moment in the national debate. If such restrictions would be unconstitutional (re: KnightExemplar's post from yesterday), then it is the legislators' job to be brave, publicly defy that sentiment, and explain to their constituencies why. The reasons that they don't are trivially obvious - bad for reelection - and I honestly and earnestly thought that the fact that that is a modern failure of the system is also trivially obvious. Am I arrogant in assuming most of us are more or less on the same page that career politicians, prioritizing political self aggrandizement over transparent and democratic deliberation, are not what the Congress was designed for? Maybe you don't agree with the reasoning that leads to my conclusion, but at least this premise is acceptable?

Here, Democrats made a symbolic gesture about bills being suppressed in committee. There is no serious argument to be made that this particular gun bill was being squirreled away from national attention, or that the Democrats holding a sit-in weren't seeking to accomplish their political goals rather than to reform failures of the Congressional system, and I'm not arguing that. I was only answering your comment that it would be fine for this bill to die in committee like countless other bills. Countless is too many.

*BTW a torrent of shitty bills is itself another systematic failure, since legislators are meant to take their jobs seriously and not grandstand. All I'm doing here is pointing out the obvious, unsubtle shortcomings of the real Congress in achieving its theoretical purpose. How is this sentiment controversial?

Edit: I'm being a little over the top. But y'all did a bit put words in my mouth.

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Jun 27, 2016 3:49 pm UTC

Except Republican Congressmen are doing what their constituency wants. Which is gum up the works and prevent votes from happening. Don't forget, a sizable number of Americans were pro shutdown.

What I don't think you realize Mauthe Dhoo, is that the will of the people is in fact being executed. And the will of the people is to stop these bills from happening at every corner. You and I may disagree with this fundamental approach, but as far as I can tell, the Americans who voted in all these Congressmen do NOT want "Obama and cohorts" to be able to do anything.

You're looking way too closely at a singular policy. But remember:

* Eric Cantor was voted out of his district, in a primary.

* Bohner became deeply unpopular because he worked with the Democrats

* Paul Ryan WAS seen as a uniting figure, until he started "working with the Democrats" with the audacity to pass budget bills.

The fact of the matter is, grandstanding wins votes, which is the best measure we have for "what the people want".
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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jun 27, 2016 4:08 pm UTC

Mauthe Dhoo wrote:Maybe there is a miscommunication. I'm not using some convoluted rhetorical technique to say some bill I wanted passed should have been passed when it wasn't. I'm not a supporter of the particular bills this sit-in was about. I'm talking about the failure of the Congress to do its job competently - its a pretty popular line of thinking! The "normal practices" are broken.


In this particular instance, the Republicans are not utilizing any particularly arcane or obscure devices. No congress votes on everything. If you believe they should, you're advocating a very large change in government.

Yeah, you may not like congress, that's a common viewpoint, but it's unlikely that the basic structure of it is to blame. After all, that's not a new thing, is it? It can hardly be the cause.

Committees hold hearings, do markups, draft reports, and report out bills. Yes, in an age when fundamentally vapid, grandstanding, or weather-ballooning bills are presented at ridiculous rates, committees logically also take on a filtering role* - but that obviously isn't the case for a bill that is front and center in an ongoing national debate. Bills may die in committee for all sorts of pragmatic reasons, but no bill should die in committee because the controlling party fundamentally disagrees with it. That absolutely is not what anyone in Congress was elected to do.


That is precisely what they were elected to do.

And it really is bad for the system, bad for representative democracy, when the controlling party can use committee referral to avoid votes that would hurt them in the public eye, because floor votes are publicized precisely in order to hold the politicians accountable to the public eye. If it didn't matter, than like Diadem (and KnightExemplar, originally) said, it would be trivially easy to go to the floor and vote this bill down.


And do you believe that the same courtesy should be given in return? Should Democrats feel obliged to bring every Republican favored topic to a general vote, just because the idea was in the media? No matter how bad of an idea they believe it to be?

Are lawmakers required to be driven by "in the public eye", ie, the media? Must they vote on what the media believes they must? Why?

The reasons that they don't are trivially obvious - bad for reelection - and I honestly and earnestly thought that the fact that that is a modern failure of the system is also trivially obvious. Am I arrogant in assuming most of us are more or less on the same page that career politicians, prioritizing political self aggrandizement over transparent and democratic deliberation, are not what the Congress was designed for? Maybe you don't agree with the reasoning that leads to my conclusion, but at least this premise is acceptable?


As I said before, please demonstrate how Republicans have been penalized for opposing gun control.

Only then would it be a matter of political convenience. This ain't that. Republicans waste no time in seeking the approval of the NRA, loudly denouncing gun control, etc. Even when there's no bill on the table. They do this because it is politically advantageous.

Your logic relies on counter-factual assumptions.

Here, Democrats made a symbolic gesture about bills being suppressed in committee. There is no serious argument to be made that this particular gun bill was being squirreled away from national attention, or that the Democrats holding a sit-in weren't seeking to accomplish their political goals rather than to reform failures of the Congressional system, and I'm not arguing that. I was only answering your comment that it would be fine for this bill to die in committee like countless other bills. Countless is too many.


Democrats have given roughly zero shits about committees existing when they had control. This isn't over that.

This is Democratic grandstanding over a doomed gun control bill. There is no way this bill can possibly pass, for a large number of reasons. A sit in could not have possibly changed that.

It's mind boggling how you look at this scenario and conclude that it is the Republicans who are grandstanding for political reasons. They don't need to grandstand. They have the power, and thus, do not have to care about it.

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby Mauthe Dhoo » Mon Jun 27, 2016 5:41 pm UTC

KnightExemplar, Are you arguing out of cynicism, that "them's the facts, and we're stuck with them?" Or are you arguing that obstructionism is actually evidence of a successful representative democratic system? The government shutdown was not in any sense the will of the people; it garnered an 85% disapproval rating for the Congress (worse than the 77% disapproval it won Congressional Republicans alone).

Grandstanding wins votes, but vote-winning stops being your job once you're elected. Modern elections in the U.S. are a horserace around a gerrymandered track, not a job interview about competent governance. And along the way, election of representatives becomes a very bad measure for "what the people want" and a very good measure of how people manipulate the system to retain power.

Tyndmyr, yes, I think the same "courtesy" should be given in return, since I'm arguing that its not a courtesy, its their job. I really am arguing that "the basic structure of it" - what the legislature's political theater has become - is to blame.

I don't follow the difference you're drawing between vote blocking being "politically convenient" vs. "politically advantageous." Neither of those things are good governance.

WRT how Republicans are penalized for opposing gun control: As you say, opposing gun control bolsters support among the base, at a time when Republicans are trying to rally their base to save the down-ticket Congressional races from a presidential candidate that scares them. But in the meantime, 85% of nationwide respondents to the poll everyone was reading last week wanted to use the lists as gun control. (92% wanted background checks, but the question didn't really ask if they wanted expanded background checks.) Which of those two audiences motivated Republican leadership last week? If Republicans "waste no time in seeking the approval of the NRA, loudly denouncing gun control," why didn't they vote to trounce it here? Why was it politically disadvantageous to be seen making that vote, that week?

My axe to grind is about the broader systematic failures of the Congress, so if I'm missing some key aspect of this particular debate, you can turn me around on it.

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jun 27, 2016 6:00 pm UTC

Mauthe Dhoo wrote:Tyndmyr, yes, I think the same "courtesy" should be given in return, since I'm arguing that its not a courtesy, its their job. I really am arguing that "the basic structure of it" - what the legislature's political theater has become - is to blame.


It is...not their job, no. That is, at a basic level, not how the US government works.

How you believe it *should* work is not consistent with long practice. Nor is it consistent with how the rest of the US believes it should work(save occasionally, when it opposes their chosen side, but mostly even that's not a big thing). This is what committees are for. Your beliefs are not those of the rest of the country.

I don't follow the difference you're drawing between vote blocking being "politically convenient" vs. "politically advantageous." Neither of those things are good governance.


That's not the line. It's not EITHER of these things. It's sort of a basic issue for them that you want them to somehow compromise on for a squishy ideological reason that isn't theirs or their constituents. They have absolutely no reason to do so.

Republicans are not afraid of a vote. They would absolutely win a vote. They gain whenever they oppose gun control.

If they were somehow forced to vote on it, and cheerfully all voted against it, their constituents would cheer them on. It'd be a part of their speeches, etc.

But supporting it and later voting against it is not what their constituents want. It's what YOU want. The constituents just want it dead, buried, and opposed at every step of the way. Republicans won't be harmed by voting against it. They WILL be harmed by publicly showing support for it in any way.

The issue isn't inconvenient for them at all, they only stand to gain from it coming up, but it'd be ludicrous to suppose that they would benefit from going against their party on it. They're not opposing it because it's something they like, but in this one instance, they have to, because of some political shenanigans...it's a consistent viewpoint that's consistent with other principles they espouse, and have for some time. If you consider *this* issue to be "merely politically advantageous", then ALL politics is that.

WRT how Republicans are penalized for opposing gun control: As you say, opposing gun control bolsters support among the base, at a time when Republicans are trying to rally their base to save the down-ticket Congressional races from a presidential candidate that scares them. But in the meantime, 85% of nationwide respondents to the poll everyone was reading last week wanted to use the lists as gun control. (92% wanted background checks, but the question didn't really ask if they wanted expanded background checks.) Which of those two audiences motivated Republican leadership last week? If Republicans "waste no time in seeking the approval of the NRA, loudly denouncing gun control," why didn't they vote to trounce it here? Why was it politically disadvantageous to be seen making that vote, that week?


As even you note, the polled number is not particularly relevant to the issue at hand.

The media is heavily interested in misrepresenting popular support.

The basic facts remain that republicans, when they cross the aisle to support gun control, are often brutally punished for it, and are lauded for opposing it. You can phrase poll numbers however you want, but if you lose all the votes, you're done. In actual practice, Republicans generally support gun rights. Democrats generally do not. The political support for gun rights is broader and more organized than any opposition by orders of magnitude.

My axe to grind is about the broader systematic failures of the Congress, so if I'm missing some key aspect of this particular debate, you can turn me around on it.


Nobody else has the same axe to grind you do, including Democrats. They don't want committees to serve a different function. That's not the point of their debate. When they gain power, they will not reorder the rules to restrict the blocking of votes they dislike. They have not done so in the past, and there is no reason to think they will do so in the future.

They simply want Republicans to yield on THIS issue. Or at least, to be seen as fighting for that.
Last edited by Tyndmyr on Mon Jun 27, 2016 6:02 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Jun 27, 2016 6:01 pm UTC

Mauthe Dhoo wrote:KnightExemplar, Are you arguing out of cynicism, that "them's the facts, and we're stuck with them?" Or are you arguing that obstructionism is actually evidence of a successful representative democratic system? The government shutdown was not in any sense the will of the people; it garnered an 85% disapproval rating for the Congress (worse than the 77% disapproval it won Congressional Republicans alone).

Grandstanding wins votes, but vote-winning stops being your job once you're elected. Modern elections in the U.S. are a horserace around a gerrymandered track, not a job interview about competent governance. And along the way, election of representatives becomes a very bad measure for "what the people want" and a very good measure of how people manipulate the system to retain power.

Tyndmyr, yes, I think the same "courtesy" should be given in return, since I'm arguing that its not a courtesy, its their job. I really am arguing that "the basic structure of it" - what the legislature's political theater has become - is to blame.

I don't follow the difference you're drawing between vote blocking being "politically convenient" vs. "politically advantageous." Neither of those things are good governance.


The Republicans who are grandstanding are getting the approval of their constituents. That's really all there is to it. And no, the overall disapproval rating polls are utter crap when it comes to how Congress actually works and how it was designed. You see, we Americans hate all of the OTHER Congressmen, but overwhelmingly vote for incumbents in our elections. Since Congress is composed of roughly 434 other Congressmen, we seem to hate everyone else but our own.

Of the 435 seats of the House that are up for election, only 66 of them (15% or so) are considered competitive this year. IE: 85% of Districts are composed of people who overwhelmingly support their current incumbent Representative.

You want Congressmen to write laws? Well, there is a huge amount of Americans who don't want new laws written. At least, not while Obama is in office.

-----------

That national polls disagree with local polls is not surprising to me in the least. People in Texas don't like California's representatives. Etc. etc. That's why we all get our own.
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Re: Democrats stage sit in over gun legislation in House

Postby sardia » Mon Jun 27, 2016 6:09 pm UTC

There are things congress shouldn't do, even with the support of their constituents. The debt ceiling game of chicken is one, government shut downs is another. I'd argue scotus nominations is a third, but conservatives disagree with me.*

*I'd be less upset if we knew this was a legitimate strategy, then Roberts would never have made it onto the court.


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