The Collective
Friday, December 12, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via WaPo: Auto Bailout Talks Collapse as Senate Deadlocks Over Wages

Minutes after the talks failed, the Senate voted on the bailout measure that had been approved Wednesday by the House on a largely party-line vote, 237-170. In the Senate, the vote was 52-35, eight votes short of the 60 needed to override a Republican filibuster. Of those voting yes, 10 Republicans joined 42 Democrats.

First, may I say that the evolution of the term “filibuster” has been rather remarkable. It used to mean extended (indeed protracted) debate that would lead to an inability to achieve cloture (and end to debate on a measure so that a vote could be taken on the bill). Now the terms is used to simply mean any situation in which a specific procedural hurdle (the 60 votes for cloture) cannot be achieved. Given that the Senate didn’t have the bail-out legislation for a full twenty-four hours before attempting a cloture vote, the traditional meaning of “filibuster” hardly makes any sense. More accurately the fact of the matter is that because of the cloture rule, legislation in the Senate normally requires a super-majority for action on a bill as a matter of course (although not for passage). To call that a filibuster is a stretch, as it suggests extraordinary tactics when, in fact, this was a rather ordinary process that simply required voting.

Plus it seems inaccurate to call it a “Republican filibuster” in any event, as that makes it sound like an organized strategy rather than simply opposition to the bill. It simply was the case that the majority of the opposition (indeed, far and away the majority) was Republican, but there were several Democrats who opposed the measure, and ten Reps who were in favor, but it does not appear that there was time for the GOP leadership to organize 41 votes to block the measure. Rather the opposition likely coalesced of its own accord, so to speak. It is fair to say that there was a mostly party-line vote, but beyond that I am not sure much else can be said.

(Sorry, this is mostly pet-peevey stuff about the way the legislative process, and the filibuster/cloture issue in particular, is discussed in the press).

Second, one wonders if there won’t be an attempt to revive the package (indeed, the original $700 billion package failed and then was resuscitated in short order). However, in this case if there is to be a revival, it won’t happen until the new Congress is sworn in:

The Senate closed out its legislative session for the year but will stay open for pro forma sessions until the next Congress begins Jan. 6. Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) agreed that the auto rescue would not happen this year.

Much can happen in the next several weeks.

Third, while this is no doubt bad news for the Big 3 and the industries linked to them, but since it seems like these companies, especially GM and Chrysler, are likely to fail and be massively re-structured anyway, I can’t get especially upset about this action not passing the Senate. As best as I can tell, it would have been mostly a symbolic move designed to shore up short term confidence, since it would only get these companies to March at best. After all, they originally requested over twice the amount on the table, and eventually asked for more than that. Bankruptcy appears to be the ultimate fate for GM and Chrysler–although one would think that portions of both companies would survive in some form.

Fourth, “car czar”? Really?

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Filed under: The Economy, US Politics | |
The views expressed in the comments are the sole responsibility of the person leaving those comments. They do not reflect the opinion of the author of PoliBlog, nor have they been vetted by the author.


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    1. [...] a related note, Steven Taylor notes the defining-down of the filibuster by the media to mean “failure to win a cloture vote.” While I accept the point [...]

      Pingback by Corollary of the day (Signifying Nothing: Will start a RIOT! in you) — Friday, December 12, 2024 @ 12:28 pm

    2. Good.

      It’s nice to know that there are at least a few capitalists left in this country.

      Comment by Captain D — Friday, December 12, 2024 @ 12:37 pm

    3. Of course it was a Republican filibuster, by Steven’s implicit definition: an organized response by the party. See LA Times article over the weekend on memos circulated within the conference regarding opposition to this bill as a preemptive strategy against expected pro-union policy initiatives under the new congress and administration. The opposition was from Republicans bent on an old Republican tactic: union busting.

      Indeed, Captan D, capitalists are not yet on the endangered list.

      Comment by MSS — Sunday, December 14, 2024 @ 1:34 pm

    4. MSS:

      By that position any failed cloture vote is the result of a filibuster. This strikes me as an awfully broad definition of the term to the point that the Senate is therefore rife with filibusters, since it is hardly unusual for a cloture vote to fail.

      It strikes me as a different process to engage in a protracted, organized attempt at blocking legislation (or a nomination) from moving forward and the inability of the majority to achieve cloture on the first vote.

      Yes, the opposition won, but by filibustering the bill? I don’t see that, unless, again, the definition of filibuster is a failed cloture vote.

      We are in agreement on the fact that capitalism is far from dead.

      Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Sunday, December 14, 2024 @ 1:43 pm

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