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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Friday, April 29, 2005

Avoiding roll call votes

Members of Congress cast votes in favour of obnoxious bills and nominees all the time. But only roll call votes are ever recorded.

Now, a RCV is held whenever 20% of members present request it [1].

Some bad votes you know are made for maximum publicity: for instance, Alaska's Rep Don Young will be hollering himself hoarse about snaring the Gravina Bridge boondoggle (April 26).

But there are some for which you feel sure members would be happy to tick the no publicity box [2].

Is there evidence of dickering among members about calling for RCVs? Offering goodies to a 20% minority in exchange for not exercising its right to call for an RCV?

  1. For reasons I have not researched, this rule appears in the Constitution (Art I(5)(4)).

  2. Like what? Dunno: they haven't had publicity...


There is a subsidiary puzzle (in my mind - I'm not suggesting any of this is anything but old hat to the aficionado) relating to division votes: where members (certainly, senators) stand up in their places, Yeas and Nays successively, for the president to judge whether the vote passes or not.

These votes are, by the rules, not recorded. But eagle-eyed journos and others in the gallery - not to mention colleagues on the floor - will in many cases know who voted which way.

Is any use made of this information?

A Google search on "division vote" "us senate" produces 49 of 105 items. (On, "roll call vote" "us senate", around 8,000.) We're at the wilder shores of wonkery.

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