The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, May 12, 2004
 

Did Kerry fall in a Senate bear-trap?


The fact is that John Kerry was the only senator not voting yesteday on a motion to waive CBA [1] in relation to an amendment (the Cantwell Amendment) to extend unemployment benefits [2].

The motion - and hence the amendment - failed by a single vote, 59-40. Kerry was campaigning in Kentucky.

There are two schools of thought: either Kerry's team were woefully negligent in allowing this Democrat desideratum to be lost.

Or this was a dastardly manoeuvre by the Forces of Darkness (aka the GOP) to make Kerry look woefully negligent.

Max Sawicky flip-flops (!) on the issue, but comes down on the side of woeful negligence.

The supposed MO of the FoD would be this: the whip-count the day before would have showed the motion was going to be lost, so a Kerry vote would be wasted, at the cost of disrupting his campaign schedule. But by getting a handful of GOP nays to switch their votes, the thing could be made to appear winnable.

(I've mentioned here umpteen times vote-counting as a basic skill of any senator.)

The argument made against RC 88 having been a put-up job is that the GOP who supported the motion voted for the substance of the Cantwell Amendment in December. (The summary page for S1637 does not show any votes last year. No action is recorded as taken on the bill before November 7 and March 3; no connected bills are noted.)

I note that the Note does not make a Federal case out of the vote: it cites one piece (New York Post), and, in its usual opening bit of stand-up, it enquires
Are there at least seven voters in America who care as much about John Kerry's missed unemployment benefits vote as Steve Schmidt does? (And/but Imus asked Kerry about it this morning, Steve!!)

(Schmidt is Bush's campaign spokesman.)

Mr Google suggests most reaction is a whole bunch of the same AP story.

Even if the Cantwell Amendment motion had passed, it would still have to withstand the conference. How likely would that have been?

On the passage of S 1637 itself, the roll call was a humungous 92-5.

Parsing the politics of the bill for another time; but guess who had gone AWOL between the Cantwell vote and that on passage?

John Edwards and John McCain.

  1. A procedural motion requiring a 3/5ths majority - it's something to do with formalities under the Budget Act - whichever that might be - that's cropped up before here, without further elucidation. For another time. (I think I said that last time...)

  2. It was Roll Call 88, the bill S 1637 the Jumpstart Our Business Strength (JOBS) Act - Jeez!

MORE

This piece on the Cantwell vote says Kerry has missed 65% of roll call votes in the 108th Congress to date. Does that matter to voters?

Poor old Bob Dole resigned in June 1996; McGovern carried on regardless; Kennedy waited till December 22 1960 - Lyndon Johnson ran for re-election in 1960, resigning only on January 3 1961.

At this point, I run out of Senator-candidates for the top job back to Warren Harding. (He didn't resign either, in case you were wondering!)


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