As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Slaves To The Clock

So the revised credit card reform bill passed the House overwhelmingly today, after overwhelmingly passing the Senate, and the President will sign it probably within a couple days. Most of the rules in the bill would have already been instituted by the Federal Reserve, but this sped up the timeline, as they will take effect immediately instead of in July 2010. Very little else is new here, save for some slight strengthening from the Senate.

And in exchange for that acceleration, gun owners will be allowed to carry loaded weapons into national parks.

To the frustration and discouragement of many Democrats, House and Senate lawmakers and aides say it now appears likely that President Obama will this week sign into law a provision allowing visitors to national parks and refuges to carry loaded and concealed weapons.

The White House is lukewarm at best on the gun provision, which was added to a popular measure imposing new rules on credit card companies. But the Democrats who now control both Congress and the White House appear ready to allow it to survive rather than derail a consumer-friendly credit card measure that Mr. Obama is eager to sign as Congress heads off for a Memorial Day recess.

“Timing is everything in politics,” said Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma and the champion of the gun proposal [...]

“It is a shame,” said Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California. “But you have to come to a realization around here that at this point in time, the N.R.A. gets the votes,” she said referring to the National Rifle Association.

“Either you are going to bring down the whole Senate and never do anything or you or going to swallow hard and say, ‘I will just vote my conscience on those amendments and speak out until people get a hold of their senses,’ ” Mrs. Boxer said.

Far be it from me to contradict Sen. Boxer, but I don't know what the hell she's talking about. Here's how my Civics 101 book tells me how legislation works: the House passes a version, the Senate passes a version, the differences are reconciled in conference, and both Houses then vote on the final version. That's not what happened here. The House passed a version, the Senate passed a version with an unrelated gun rider, and then the House just shrugged and passed the Senate version. Why? With Democrats controlling the conference, the rider could have easily been tossed out. And if Boxer is telling me that 40 US Senators would be able to go back to their districts and explain they voted with the credit card companies, I just don't believe her.

There was absolutely a remedy here, and no need for this measure, which does not have majority support among Democrats, to be included. But there's the matter of the clock. The President wanted a bill on his desk by Memorial Day. And the House passing the Senate's bill was the best way for that to happen. The gun measure stays because Congress wanted to facilitate the President's schedule.

Because if there's one thing Congress is known for, it's punctuality.

It's amazing how Democrats learned the worst lessons from Republicans while forgetting the simple lessons, like how to screw the opposition in conference committee.

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