Last week we talked some about the Senate Republicans’ sneaky move of placing the issue of drilling in the Arctic Refuge in a budget resolution, which unlike normal legislation cannot be stopped by a filibuster. If you’re interested in the nuts-and-bolts mechanics of how that parliamentary trickery works, check out this post from Mark Schmitt. He aptly summarizes:

Now, where in that process is there an opportunity for real debate and bipartisan participation? Nowhere. A decision is made the night before the Budget Committee markup about what number to write into one of those open slots. From there, a series of “we have no choices” choices are generated, that might lead to further tax cuts or to opening ANWR. Only a significant number of Republicans declaring that they will vote against the whole thing can derail this process.

It’s possible to understand this process as a way of reducing deficits, which was the procedure’s original intent. As it did in the Reagan, Bush I and Clinton eras, it forces Congress to make choices in the aggregate that it does not want to make in the particular. But used as a procedure to cut taxes and increase deficits, and to push through other unrelated policies such as ANWR, it is simply an outrageous assault on democracy.

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