The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Another missed opportunity for Senate Dems over coffin amendment?
It's an egregious schoolboy howler of a misapprehension this side of the pond to suppose the houses of Congress to be under parliamentary discipline, of the type prevalent in Westminster.
In particular, there is no Leader of the Opposition to inspire loyalty, if not obedience. To a legislator, the claims to assistance of a presumptive presidential candidate of his party are tenuous, compared to the imperative of consulting the interests of his constituents. (Congressmen might hope for coat-tail assistance; two-thirds of senators will be unable to benefit.)
But, where constituency interests are not engaged, the infliction of a defeat on the majority party is surely a desirable object, for boosting morale, if for no other reason?
Yesterday, we had Roll Call 132 in the Senate on the Lautenberg Amendment, which would have required USG to prepare a protocol on media coverage of the bodies of servicemen dying abroad - currently subject to a ban on photography.
The result: nixed 39-54, with 7 not voting, including John Kerry.
The Nays include the following Dems:
The RINOs were split: Snowe voted for the amendment, Chafee and Collins voted against. McCain also voted in favour.
Presumably, if there had been a chance of victory, Clinton and Kerry would have been present - or were they paired with non-voting GOPs ?
I recognise most of the names on the list of Nays - from their sterling obstetric work in the birth of that living abortion, the Medicare Bill , for instance.
The cruel fact is that the Dem Senate leadership (if that's not an oxymoron) know that a conservative state will most likely elect conservative senators - and infinitely better those senators be Blue Dogs  (helping the leadership towards regaining control of the Senate) than GOP, even if they vote against the leadership line every time there is one .
That, of course, is no excuse, for the leadership to throw up their hands: each of the ten Nays would have pet projects, would want to establish positions on issues through votes on amendments: even a minority leadership would doubtless have something to bargain with for a marquee vote like the Lautenberg amendment. How hard exactly did they try, I wonder?
A cursory search for studies analysing US Senate voting patterns of RINOs and DINOs  came up empty.
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