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Dear House Democrats: Never, ever vote for a Republican motion to recommit. Treat them as purely procedural motions to be all but ignored, otherwise they’ll weaponize them against you
This is how the GOP screwed with the Democratic agenda using motions to recommit in 2007. Democrats, don’t fall for this again…
This is a very dangerous thing to see happening. The GOP minority successfully weaponized motions to recommit (which effectively block passage of a bill) in 2007 and helped thwart Dems from passing bills. Democrats, just vote against them—all of them!
THREAD. Let me tease this out a bit. First, what *is* a motion to recommit? It's basically the one procedural device that the House minority has to gum up the works, and it's generally made right before a vote on a bill's final passage. /1
There are a few different ways that MTRs can work, but generally speaking, they either effectively kill the bill by sending it back to committee, or immediately add an amendment that would make the bill unpalatable to the majority (or at least, most of it) /2
If you're smart, you simply treat MTRs as a procedural nuisance and instruct your caucus to vote against all of them. That's what Republicans did after they took back the House in 1994. From '95-07, Dems only won 11 MTRs—less than one a year /3…
Dem leaders didn't issue the same instructions in 2007, and evidently haven't now. That's a mistake—and they should know from their '07-11 experience /4
So why do members of the majority ever vote for MTRs? Because those who want to portray themselves as "bipartisan" or "independent" want to lower their numbers on the percentage of time they vote with their party /5
It might seem like a harmless way to juke the stats, but it brought a lot of grief, because it transformed MTRs from being viewed as purely procedural votes into votes on substantive matters—with serious consequences /6
Most painfully, in 2007, Dems were set to pass a bill, the DC Voting Rights Act, that would have FINALLY given DC an actual voting member in the House, along with an extra seat for Utah (and a teeny tax increase to pay for them) /7…
But Republicans put forward an MTR that would have amended the bill to *also* eviscerate DC's gun laws. Now normally, Dems would have just voted down the MTR and proceeded to a final vote. /8
But Dem leaders were (rightly) worried that conservative Dems would have voted *for* the GOP MTR, lest they be attacked as insufficiently pro-gun. That would have rendered the DC Voting Rights Act unpassable poison on the House floor. /9
Dems were forced to yank the bill. DC still doesn't have a voting representative in Congress. /10
Back in 2007, an instruction to vote against MTRs would have been well-nigh impossible (or just ignored), given the ascendance of the contumacious Blue Dogs. Of course, voting *for* MTRs didn't help them—most lost in 2010 /11
But now, with a more cohesive, partisan & progressive caucus, it's possible to ask for such discipline—there are few headstrong Blue Dog-types left. If Dem leaders explain to their members the value of sticking together, there's reason to think the message will be received. /12
At least it's worth trying. The alternative is to create an inevitable vector for #demsindisarray stories, so let's give it a shot. /13
This story is so dismaying for anyone who cares about the ability of the House Democratic caucus to remain unified & pass good legislation. I also warned about when the new Congress was just days old [THREAD]…
Here's the thread where I laid out this problem of Democrats voting for Republican motions to recommit last month. (It explains what MTRs are if you're not yet familiar)
What's happening is that some Democrats, starting with Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn at the top, still cling to a naive view that if vulnerable members vote against their party some of the time, it'll insulate them from GOP attacks
This is nonsense, of course. Freshman Rep. Mike Levin gets it completely: They're going to attack you no matter what
One of the worst offenders when it comes to voting for GOP MTRs is Conor Lamb, but he should know as well as anyone that such votes won't protect him. Last year, the GOP ran ads tying him to Pelosi even though he said he'd vote against her!
Lamb claims, "I just vote for what’s best for my district," but that's nonsense. Republicans vote to add extraneous measures to Democratic bills via MTRs, then vote *against* the actual bill even if the MTR succeeds. There's no substantive legislating going on
Meanwhile, smarter and more loyal Democrats who also sit in tough districts, like freshman Rep. Katie Hill, are being made to pay an unfair price
So what's the solution? As I said last month, Dem leadership has to ask for discipline from its members
The problem is, Nancy Pelosi has done just this, but she's been undermined by Hoyer & Clyburn
And at this point, the problem may be unfixable. These wayward members have grown accustomed to voting as they please. As one unnamed Dem said, "Now you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube." Still, they have to try.
During their time in the majority, by the way, Republicans almost never lost on MTRs, because they enforced iron discipline and were a lot smarter. Dems, meanwhile, are in the midst of a classic Will Rogers mess ("I don't belong to an organized political party. I'm a Democrat")
One final, unrelated note. This headline is off-base: "Pelosi’s freshmen fracture amid GOP pressure." The Dem splitters are very much NOT "Pelosi's freshmen." Those quoted in the piece (Lamb, Van Drew, Cunningham) did NOT vote for Pelosi for speaker
I warned and I warned and I warned and now this
Just hearing about "motions to recommit" for the first time today? Click here for a full explainer:
My colleague @joanmccarter lays the smackdown on Hoyer & Clyburn for allowing Republicans to cause havoc with motions to recommit…
Naive Dem freshmen, abetted by Hoyer & Clyburn, think that they have to vote in favor of these ridiculous GOP MTRs otherwise they'll lose re-election. Here's how we know that's wrong: ZERO Dem MTRs passed during the entire period of GOP control of the House after they won in 2010
So House Republicans exercised iron discipline on MTRs yet stayed in power for eight years. House Democrats, meanwhile, got beat on 20% of MTRs and held the majority for only half as long…
And what about 2018, you ask? Democrats didn't win any seats by beating up Republican incumbents who failed to vote for a Dem MTR on this or that issue. They ran on healthcare, which the GOP took a zillion very explicit votes on
So yes, MTRs are procedural garbage, and Dems should just ignore all of them and vote "no" in lockstep. And as freshmen Rep. Mike Levin rightly put it, they're going to attack you anyway no matter how you vote
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