Ted Cruz Gets a Lesson in Schoolhouse Rock, Senate Style

| Fri Sep. 20, 2013 9:17 PM EDT

Sen. Ted Cruz has been howling for weeks about a "surrender caucus" in the Republican Party that's insufficiently dedicated to the holy cause of defunding Obamacare. So it's only natural for Drudge to ask the question on the right. If the Senate tries to pass a budget bill that doesn't defund Obamacare, will Cruz mount a filibuster?

Funny you should ask. Sarah Binder, who actually understands all the arcane details of Senate procedure, explains how things are going to work once the House transmits its bill, which includes language defunding Obamacare. It's hard not to laugh once you figure out what it all means for poor old Ted. Here's the process:

  1. Harry Reid offers a motion to proceed and then files cloture. Will Cruz filibuster? How can he? At this point, the bill under consideration is the one the House sent over, which includes the defunding language. He can hardly filibuster that.
  2. Reid then offers an amendment to strike defunding from the bill.
  3. Now Reid files cloture on the bill itself. Will Cruz filibuster? Again, how can he? At this point, this is still the original House bill, complete with the provision to defund Obamacare.
  4. So cloture will succeed, at which point the Senate has 30 hours to debate the bill. Reid's amendment comes up for a vote, and since amendments only require a simple majority, it passes.
  5. At the end of 30 hours, the bill itself gets a vote, and a simple majority is enough to pass it. So the bill, with defunding struck out, passes easily.

In other words, there's no point at which Cruz can filibuster, because he'd be preventing a vote on the very bill he wants to pass. Then, once the defunding clause is struck out, subsequent votes require only a simple majority.

House Republicans are pissed off at Cruz for conceding on Wednesday that Reid "likely" has the votes to strip the defunding language from the House bill. Cruz is surrendering! But my guess is that a little birdie explained the facts of life to Senator Ted, and once the light bulb went off he realized that he was trapped. He had talked a good game, but there was nothing he could do that wouldn't make him look like an idiot. So he begain the painful but inevitable process of backing down. Poor Ted.

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