The amnesty cloture vote -- in order

The official roll breaks down the vote alphabetically, by state, and of course by vote. What it doesn’t do is tell you the order they voted in, which is critical to understanding (or at least inferring) motive. They’re supposed to vote in alphabetical order, but if they’re not present when the roll is called — or if they are present but would rather keep mum to see how things are shaking out — they get skipped, and can then approach the podium afterwards, when they see fit, to cast their ballot.

So here’s how it went, based on a once-through of the videotape. Boldface indicates Republicans, underline means they switched from yes on the cloture vote on Tuesday to no today. Forty members voted during the alphabetical roll. Note that fully six of them switched — and only five switches total were needed to kill the bill. The other fencesitters must have noticed, sensed the momentum, and recalibrated their own votes accordingly. The other notable is the Burr-Harkin-Pryor-Nelson run. They all voted no, all in succession, and were all switchers, which makes we wonder if they had an informal agreement among themselves.

The dotted line marks the 40th no vote, which doomed the bill. Everyone after that knew it was dead (assuming they’d been keeping count), which makes the late switchers like Coleman, McConnell, and especially Voinovich switchers of convenience, not conviction. Why vote yes on a bill that you know is going to lose?

First round

Aye (19):
Bennett Brownback Casey Clinton Conrad Craig Durbin Graham Kyl Lott Martinez Murray Obama Reid Salazar Schumer Specter Whitehouse Kennedy

No (21):
Alexander Baucus Bayh Bond Bunning Cornyn DeMint Dole Domenici Dorgan Ensign Hatch Isakson Murkowski Sessions Smith Stabenow Stevens Sununu Vitter Webb


Leahy – aye (20)
Dodd – aye (21)
Crapo – no (22)
Corker – no (23)
Feingold – aye (22)
Biden – aye (23)
Gregg – aye (24)
McCain – aye (25)
Coburn – no (24)
Chambliss – no (25)
Bingaman – no (26)
Enzi – no (27)
Landrieu – no (28)
Allard – no (29)
Roberts – no (30)
Rockefeller – no (31)
Lugar – aye (26)
Reed – aye (27)
Sanders – no (32)
Feinstein – aye (28)
Grassley – no (33)
Wyden – aye (29)
Mikulski – aye (30)
Hutchison – no (34)
Burr – no (35)
Harkin – no (36)
Pryor – no (37)
Nelson (Ben) – no (38)
Lincoln – aye (31)
Cardin – aye (32)
McCaskill – no (39)
Shelby – no (40)
Tester – no (41)
Nelson (Bill) – aye (33)
Inouye – aye (34)
Barrasso – no (42)
Collins – no (43)
Byrd – no (44)
Snowe – aye (35)
Thune – no (45)
Brownback – no (46)
Akaka – aye (36)
Coleman – no (47)
Cochran – no (48)
Cantwell – aye (37)
Hagel – aye (38)
McConnell – no (49)
Brown – no (50)
Lieberman – aye (39)
Klobuchar – aye (40)
Carper – aye (41)
Warner – no (51)
Inhofe – no (52)
Menendez – aye (42)
Lautenberg – aye (43)
Kerry – aye (44)
Boxer – aye (45)
Kohl – aye (46)
Levin – aye (47)
Voinovich – no (53)

Say, how come there are 47 yes votes when the roll says there were only 46? Ah, my friends, that’s because Sam Brownback turned out to be the weaseliest “no” vote of all. He voted yes right at the very beginning, during the alphabetical vote, probably thinking that cloture was going to pass. Then, when it died, he switched to a no. I almost wish he was pulling more than 1% in the presidential polls so we could hammer him into oblivion with that. As it is, I’ve captured his moment of shame for posterity on video. I think that’s him in the red circle; you’ll see him gesture to the clerk just before she announces his deep, principled opposition to amnesty.

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