Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Congress takes an interesting turn

If we were a Parliamentary system instead of what we are, the government would have collapsed recently. Let me explain in short for any readers who don't understand this.

In most countries, after a Parliamentary election, the largest party creates the government, which is run by the Prime Minister. (Some systems have a President or Royal who technically governs but usually doesn't have much real political power.)

The Parliament then passes the nation's laws. Very often the largest party does not have a majority, so they bring in partner parties to make a coalition for governing. The majority only brings bills up that they can pass, and typically must give their partners some political priorities of theirs to keep the majority in power. If a bill fails, the coalition falls, and there are new elections. In reality, what happens is there is a "vote of no confidence," and if the coalition partner leaves the majority, the government falls, and new elections are held. *

This makes governing impossible without some compromise.

The United States doesn't have this situation. Our elections are every two years, and the politicians don't force a new election by being obstinate. And so they jockey among themselves for power and TV time. Being a faithful party member doesn't necessarily help you. Parties used to control the money used by the candidates to run for election, so that held them in line. But new obstinate members can make money by being difficult and landing on TV.

And this brings us to now.

Technically, the US has two parties: the Republicans and the Democrats. The Republicans have a thin majority in the lower legislative body (the House of Representatives) but are in the minority in the upper body (the Senate). Since bipartisan wins are hard to come by (and partisan wins impossible), most day-to-day legislative efforts don't accomplish much.

The real politics displayed here show the US essentially now has three parties in the House of Representatives: Democrats, traditional Republicans, and Maga Republicans.

One of the few bipartisan efforts WAS the support of a bill that includes aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and money for border control. After give and take, the Senate passed a law with this support, including a win for Republicans on Border Control. It didn't NOT pass the House. The Maga Republicans followed Trump's request to doom the bill because he did not want to give Joe Biden a win on the issue of Border Control because that resonates with voters. The bill was stopped by the Trump Caucus of Representatives.

Funds for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwanese defense were still needed, but the Republicans were divided and could not pass a bill at all. The Speaker of the House is from the Maga wing of Republicans. But as Speaker, he should look towards the good of the country. And the funds in this bill were needed quickly, particularly in Ukraine. So Speaker Mike Johnson (normally a reactionary religious conservative) ultimately decided to put "country over" part of his party. He broke the bill into 3 parts: money for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwanese defense. Of these, the Ukraine money is divisive because Trump wants Russia to win in the battle for Ukraine. Really.

To pass all three bills, Speaker Johnson depended on the votes of Democrats. The final vote on Ukraine showed that the majority of his own party voted against it. As I said, in a parliamentary system this would bring the government down and force a new vote. That doesn't happen here.

This type of vote would bring down a Parliamentary System

But there was a revolt. The Maga Republicans cannot bring down the government, but they can force a vote for a new Speaker of the House. This was unprecedented, but the same Maga Republicans did this last year and our legislature was on hold for 21 days. Note: A vote for Speaker requires a majority of the members and the other party always votes against anyone, so it took all Republicans to agree on a new Speaker.

The revolt has been threatened again, but this time the Democrats have agreed to support the Speaker against the Maga wing of the party. With about 4 - 5 months left in the legislative year, there are a lot of appropriations and other bills to pass. And so the House of Representatives is effectively run by a coalition of Democrats and Traditional Republicans. It is better for the country, but it may be the kiss of death for the Republicans cooperating. 

Interesting indeed. What happens next, no one knows.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What is too much Taylor Swift

 This much ... when the singer is used to send a message about POSSIBLE future problems?