It would probably be a shock to some (although likely not you) that the American government doesn’t quite function like you were taught in H.S. Civics, (They do still teach civics, in high school, don’t they?) or in those cute little “Schoolhouse Rock” clips on ABC.
There are all sorts of little tricks and tweaks to get something through without too much scrutiny or too many WTF questions. One of those tweaks is called “unanimous consent”.
Ok, right now you’re probably asking yourself, “How the hell the house would ever even unanimously consent that the sun rises in the east”? The Regressives would probably claim that in the southern hemisphere, it comes up in the west. (And, the baggers would believe them.)
Let me explain. “Unanimous consent” is a parliamentary motion in which legislative rules can be suspended and any bill can be called up. However, if any member of Congress objects, the motion is blocked and the bill dies.
As you can imagine, with 435 Representatives, you have to be mighty careful how you use this. Someone is always likely to have an objection And, if they do, the whole bill is DOA. However, if you wait until late in the evening when there are very few people in the chamber, you stand a much better chance. In the late evening of December 11th, there were only three members present in the house chamber.
- 10:23:00 PM; Pennsylvania 6th District Regressive, Jim Gerlach asks for unanimous consent to discharge from committee and consider H.R. 5859 “To impose sanctions with respect to the Russian Federation, to provide additional assistance to Ukraine, and for other purposes.”
- 10:23:54 PM: H.R.5859 considered by unanimous consent.
- 10:23:55 PM: H.R. 5859 passes without objection. (Damn! That was quick.)
The bill, as you may have noticed in the title, is supposedly aimed at imposing new sanctions on Putin’s Russia, such as:
- Heavier sanctions on energy, banking and the military;
- $60,000,000 to
meddle in Russian affairs. Excuse me, “to improve democratic governance and transparency, accountability [and] rule of law” in Russia;
- $30,000,000 for anti-Russian propaganda in the countries of the former USSR;
- A declaration that Russia is a nuclear “threat to the United States” and should be held accountable;
- A demand that Russia dismantle all ballistic and cruise missiles with a range between 300 & 3000 miles. (No country would or could agree to that demand and still survive.)
There are also a few other tidbits thrown in:
- Provisions to privatize Ukrainian electricity, gas and oil along with $50,000,000 to assist in a corporate takeover (Exon will love this!);
- $20,000,000 for “democratic organizing” (i.e. influencing elections) in Ukraine. (That’s worked out well (NOT!) in Iran, Chile and a number of other countries.)
I grew up listening to Republicans capitalizing on the Cold War to get elected to office. (Fear works very well with them, or haven’t you noticed that after the last election, you hear a lot less about ISIS and ebola.)
Unfortunately, it looks like they’re back to their old Cold War tricks. Stay tuned!