Monday, June 25, 2007

Clay pigeons

Cartoon by Lisa Benson

I had no idea what they were talking about, so I did a little reading. A “clay pigeon” is a procedural tactic sometimes used by Congress to circumvent legitimate debate.

By now you know about cloture. In essence, you get 60 Senators to vote for it, which puts a 30 hour deadline on debating the bill. I suppose cloture makes sense if you are talking about limiting debate over a bridge in Montana, but not when you are discussing sweeping immigration reform that was never subject to public hearings or even committee work.

So…this clay pigeon technique involves the absurd extreme of analyzing the minutest detail of every amendment, and voting on each little piece; sort of like turning off the shot clock and watching Senators pass the ball back and forth until the final buzzer.

Like a clay pigeon, you explode the amendment into little bits and examine each piece ad nauseum. An alternative is to give the senators milk and graham crackers and have them all take a little nap.

It’s funny that the line item veto is unconstitutional but this little congressional trick isn’t.

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