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No, the Senate did not block the House border bills – yet

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J. Scott Applewhite/AP

(Read caption) The Capitol is seen in Washington Thursday morning.

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The Washington Examiner reported Tuesday, “in a matter of minutes, Senate Democrats on Tuesday blocked a pair of House bills that would have provided nearly $700 million to deal with the surge of immigrants on the southern border and blocked President Obama from expanding an anti-deportation program.”

Problem is Senate Democrats didn’t block the bill. In fact, they haven’t yet even delayed the bill. What occurred Tuesday was a routine Senate scheduling process.

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Here’s why: Senate rules require all bills (and joint resolutions) be read twice before further proceedings. In almost all cases, further proceedings would be to refer the bill to its committee of jurisdiction.

However, there is a procedural trick that allows the Senate to bypass committees and place the bills directly on the calendar where the full Senate may consider it. If a senator (normally the majority leader or a senator acting on his behalf) asks unanimous consent for a second reading and objects to further proceedings, the bill bypasses referral and moves directly to the calendar. This process actually expedites consideration of bills. In today’s Senate, most big bills are considered under this process. Rather than work through committee, senators reach agreements on legislation and bring it straight to the floor.

In other words, Democrats (in this case, Sen. Chris Coons (D) of Delaware) have not yet blocked the House border supplemental and deferred action bills. Rather, they have begun the process will allow those bills to come before the full Senate more quickly than if it was referred to committee. So both bills will be available for Senate consideration on the first day the Senate returns from recess.

Of course, this process in no way guarantees the Senate will actually consider either of these pieces of legislation. But it is important to note the Senate has not blocked the House bills – at least not yet.

Joshua Huder publishes his Rule 22 blog at http://rule22.wordpress.com/.


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