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How Rhetoric and
Actions Match Up

Three Musketeers - Bill Sargent, Mark Mansius, and John Gay
Bill Sargent, Mark Mansius, and John Gay all ran for Congress in the 2012 Republican Primary. They became friends and have been writing weekly columns for the  Galveston County Daily News
since May 2013.

June 10, 2013

First, by way of background:

Conference Committees: When the House and Senate have passed similar but different bills, they call for a “conference” in which members from both chambers are represented.  In this committee they attempt to work out the differences in the two bills.  Then the “conferenced” bill is sent to both the chambers for final approval and then to the President.

Filibuster and Reconciliation:  In the Senate any member can filibuster by being recognized and then refusing to relinquish the floor.  Only when 60 senators vote to cut off debate can a filibuster be stopped.  The Senate rules are different when a budget is considered under the reconciliation procedure.  Debate is limited to 20 hours. Period! Amendments must be germane, and it only takes a simple majority to approve (51 votes, and the Democrats currently have 55 seats).

In May, Senator Cruz was attempting to block the appointment of conferees on the budget reconciliation bill because he wanted the Republicans to have a voice in the process.  His goal was to get agreement from the Democrats that sixty votes would be needed for passage, thus requiring the support of at least five Republicans.  In a speech on the Senate floor Cruz made an interesting statement:

Here is the dirty little secret” there are some Republicans who would like to cast a symbolic vote against raising the debt ceiling while allowing the Democrats to raise it with only 50 votes. “To some Republicans this would be the ideal outcome because they can go to their constituents and say they voted against raising the debt ceiling while still allowing it to go through.”   What Senator Cruz was describing is a practice we see all too often in Washington, telling half-truths and not being honest.

In last week’s column we talked about the House passage of a Continuing Resolution (CR) that fully funded Obamacare.  Shortly thereafter, the House cast a vote to repeal Obamacare.   Speaker Boehner explained that, even though the House had voted on similar legislation over thirty times before, he was holding the vote again “because new members had been asking for the opportunity to vote on repeal.”  

The vote to repeal Obamacare was symbolic because there is little chance that the Senate will even consider it.  Many of the Republicans who voted for the repeal also voted for funding it as part of the CR.   So why did they vote for fully funding the implementation, administration and enforcement of Obamacare one week, and then turn around and vote to repeal it?  Could the reason be the same thing that Ted Cruz talked about -- so they could go back home and tell their constituents that they voted to repeal the measure – even though they knew full well that their vote to do so had no effect?  So this begs the question, “Are our elected representatives being disingenuous?”  Where does the hype stop and the real meaning of votes start?  Whatever happened to telling the truth and letting the chips fall as they may?

Bill, Mark and John

Mar. 6, 2013: The Congressional Record: How The Texas Delegation Voted on HR 933.
Bill Title: Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 -- This measure passed the House by a vote of 212 to 197
Discussion: The House Rules Committee rejected an "open rule" (4-9) on this bill. That action prohibited efforts to amend the measure so that ObamaCare could be defunded. That action meant that Members of Congress needed to make a very tough decision in deciding how to cast their vote.

  • Do they vote for legislation that helps protect our military in the midst of sequestration and provides funding through the end of this fiscal year at the current level of funding less the $85 billion in sequestration?

  • Do they vote for it knowing that it means that this legislation offers a reasonable chance of passage and approval in the U.S. Senate?

  • Do they do this with the full understanding that by doing so ObamaCare will be fully funded?

  • OR, do you vote against the legislation because it it does fully fund ObamaCare, a piece of legislation that conservatives oppose?

This is not an easy decision to make because the leadership of the House (the House Rules Committee) did not allow amendments that would defunded ObamaCare. That meant our Congressmen were stuck with an up or down vote. Below is how the Texas Delegation voted. Only two of the Texas Republicans voted against the measure (Louis Gohmert and Steve Stockman).

Member District/Party In Favor Against
Louis B. Gohmert, Jr CD-1 (R)   Against
Ted Poe CD-2 (R) For  
Sam Johnson CD-3 (R) For  
Ralph M. Hall CD-4 (R) For  
Jeb Hensarling CD-5 (R) For  
Joe Barton CD-6 (R) For  
John Culberson CD-7 (R) For  
Kevin Brady CD-8 (R) For  
Al Green CD-9 (D)   Against
Michael McCaul CD-10 (R) For  
Mike Conaway CD-11 (R) For  
Kay Granger CD-12 (R) For  
Mac Thornberry CD-13 (R) For  
Randy Weber CD-14 (R) For  
Ruben Hinojosa CD-15 (D)   Against
Beto O'Rourke CD-16 (D) For  
Bill Flores CD-17 (R) For  
Sheila Jackson Lee CD-18 (D)   Against
Randy Neugebauer CD-19 (R) For  
Joaquin Castro CD-20 (D) For  
Lamar Smith CD-21 (R) For  
Pete Olson CD-22 (R) For  
Pete Gallego CD-23 (D) For  
Kenny Marchant CD-24 (R) For  
Roger Williams CD-25 (R) For  
Michael Burgess CD-26 (R) For  
Blake Farenthold CD-27 (R) For  
Henry Cuellar CD-28 (D)   Against
Gene Green CD-29 (D)   Against
Eddie Bernice Johnson CD-30 (D)   Against
John Carter CD-31 (R) For  
Pete Sessions CD-32 (R) For  
Marc Veasey CD-33 (D) For  
Filemon Vela CD-34 (D)   Against
Lloyd Doggett CD-35 (D)   Against
Steve Stockman CD-36 (R)   Against