Guest Post: All About The Cloture Vote
Submitted by Deadhead
Bernanke: All about the Cloture Vote
It appears that the debate over the reappointment of Bernanke will likely come down to an impending U.S. Senate Cloture vote, barring a further uptick in political pressure on President Obama, who increduously seems to have missed the message of the vast majority of Americans who are opposed to Bernanke's renomination. I'm no Senate parliamentarian but it is important for us to understand some of the subtleties of this matter, some of which I'm sure I haven't thought about but am confident that the ensuing comments from Zero Hedge readers will fill in the blanks and lay out other options.
Cloture is a parliamentary move to close debate on an issue and force a vote. As there are several “holds” on the Bernanke nomination vote (Sanders, Bunning, DeMint come to mind), the US Senate, in order to proceed to a vote on Bernanke, must vote in the super majority of 60 votes to eliminate the holds and proceed to a limited debate, in this case 30 hours, followed by vote in which a simple majority of 51 votes will rule the day. News reports that I have read have quoted Harry Reid's office as saying that the Majority Leader will file the Cloture motion next week, likely on Monday. The motion needs to age for 2 days and then the battle can begin.
In theory as I understand it, the cloture motion is to be voted on as soon as is scheduled by the Majority Leader. However, I think there are may be a host of other strategies that can be employed to delay the cloture motion and I will rely on readers to provide detail. Keep an eye on Sanders and Bunning in particular as they are most likely to pull out the bag of tricks. Remember that the further this matter drags out, the more it works against the Bernanke renomination and the greater the political pressure becomes on Bernanke's chief supporter, the President of the United States.
We already have an idea of those Senators who are “yes” on Bernanke and those who are “no”. The interesting portion to watch will be those who are “undecided”, which to my way of thinking, are spineless politicians assessing the political winds and holding off to the last moment. The cloture process actually gives this group great political cover and provides them an opportunity to avoid a position on this entirely. Let me explain.
Let's say you are a Senator in the undecided camp and want to avoid making a commitment on the Bernanke matter. A vote “no” on cloture does not mean at all that you are voting against Bernanke, it simply means that you are in favor of unlimited debate on the matter. Part of that debate might be things like:
• gee, what the hell really went on with the Fed and AIG?
• Why is the Fed so adamantly opposed to an audit of its books and cash flows?
• Is there any truth to all the tin foil hat rumors about the Fed playing with futures, equities, stealth QE, etcetera?
• What is the Fed up to with foreign governments and foreign Central Banks?
• Does the Fed have accounts at STT? What is the deal with the “Reston 6”?
• What role did Bernanke play in the BAC/ML fiasco?
• Is the Fed's GC a contributor to ZH?
An undecided Senator could actually look like a hero by voting no for cloture as that Senator could tell the folks back home that the Fed needs to be investigated, there are too many unanswered questions, “we should not hurry into this matter”, yada, yada, yada. Naturally, understanding the polling data on Bernanke, this group would be very wise to vote no on cloture, particularly with the lesson of Massachusetts so freshly in mind and the fact that the economy is still in the pooper, no small part of which is attributable to Bernanke's failed policies.
The important take home here folks is that if less than 60 Senators vote yes for cloture, that means debate is open endlessly. If this were to happen, it is most likely the end for Bernanke due to the January 31 conclusion of Bernanke's term as well as the perception (correctly so), which will be amplified to enormous extremes by the media, that the political support is simply not there for Bernanke and Obama will have to make that phone call to Bernanke that he is toast.
If the cloture motion is passed, it's virtually a done deal and the American middle class is then toast.
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