Merry Cromnibus to all, and to all a good night

By this time on Sunday morning, the vast majority of you are probably aware of the late night wheeling and dealing which went on in the Senate and the eventual passage of the cromnibus. As usual, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee were at the center of the controversy – if that’s the word for it – which forced the poor, beleaguered members to actually show up to work on a Saturday and miss a football game.

A small group of conservatives, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), had tried to block debate on the bill by raising concerns with Obama’s immigration policy, forcing a marathon weekend session. The move infuriated their colleagues, particularly Republicans who complained that forcing senators to stay in session produced nothing positive for the GOP and only helped Democrats in their bid to approve a final batch of Obama’s nominees for government posts…

The move forced members of both parties to abruptly cancel holiday and retirement festivities back home. Some senators slogged through the Capitol hallways with their young children in tow. Several skipped the Army-Navy football game in Baltimore. Staffers forced to work entertained out-of-town guests by giving them rare weekend access to the Capitol.

The fact that any of them had to show up on Saturday and couldn’t head home from work two weeks before Christmas and stay there until early January isn’t exactly tugging at my heartstrings. What’s more surprising is that cromnibus got a vote on Saturday night rather than on Monday as originally expected. Of course, something was going to pass sooner or later, and as I’ve written here before, it was going to be pretty odious no matter whether it was the full cromnibus or a three month CR.

But what did it cost us to get this done? Did we really just see a flood of Obama nominees get the green light thanks to Cruz and Lee? The broad consensus seems to say yes. If everyone had stayed home for the weekend and then went to work on the spending bill on Monday, by the time it was done the patience of the Democrats who were eager to head off over the river and through the woods would likely have been mostly spent. Enough sustained debate at that point, according to most observers, would have seen Reid’s team throw up their hands and go home.

But to be fair to both sides of the argument, Erick Erickson has some rather strong words on the subject and insists it would have made no difference.

What did Cruz and Lee do? They made objections and dragged out the clock. In the interrim, Sen. Harry Reid filed for cloture on nomination votes. Republican critics of Cruz and Lee claim that if they had not fought on amnesty, cloture would not have been filed on the nominations…

Cloture votes occur in the order they are filed, but after disposition of each bill or nomination that is the subject of the cloture petition. For example, if Reid files cloture on bill A and bill B, one after the other, cloture on B only occurs after both cloture and passage of A. Cloture, remember, is the procedure to cut off debate — not a vote on actual passage.

Last night [Reid] filed cloture on the CROmnibus. Today he is going through procedural votes to file cloture on a number of nominations. Under Senate rules though, both cloture and final passage of the CROmnibus must occur before the cloture votes on nominations can happen. Therefore, we will be in the same place by Monday as we would be if [Lee] hadn’t objected to [Reid].

The real disappointment in all of this is not, to my way of thinking, the fact that cromnibus passed (which was pretty much impossible to stop at this point anyway) nor even that all of those nominations marched through yesterday. The final agreement which resulted in the vote included a deal where Cruz was granted a vote on a constitutional point of order declaring executive amnesty unconstitutional. And Cruz spelled it out fairly clearly for his colleagues.

“Forcing a vote on the constitutionality of Obama’s amnesty is important for two reasons. First, since President Obama enacted his unilateral amnesty after the elections, Democrats have never been made to answer for it. Tonight, they will and they will show America whether they stand with a lawless President, who is defying the will of the voters or the millions of Americans who want a safe and legal immigration system.

“Second, it allows Republicans to also show they are committed to ending Obama’s amnesty once and for all in the next Congress. If we agree it is indeed unconstitutional, we have no business funding it when the GOP controls Congress next year.

“The Constitution matters, and we must defend it. That is why we have fought so hard to ensure this vote.”

It was a safe vote for every single Republican there to take and wouldn’t have stopped progress on the spending bill anyway, since none of the Democrats were going to vote for it. But when the dust settled, Cruz saw a lot of his team members bail out.

A vast majority of the Senate disagreed with Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) assertion that President Obama’s executive order on immigration is unconstitutional.

Cruz raised a constitutional point of order against the $1.1 trillion “cromnibus” — which funds most of the government through September, preventing a government shutdown…

Only 22 senators voted with Cruz and 74 voted against his point of order.

One of the key selling points of the cromnibus for Republicans was that it only funds Homeland Security (and executive amnesty) through March. The understanding was that everything else gets a pass through the end of the next fiscal year, taking pressure off of all of them in terms of avoiding a shutdown, but the debate on amnesty would be taken up by the new GOP majority before DHS got the rest of their money for the year. One would assume that the current crop of GOP senators, secure in the knowledge that reinforcements are on the way in January, could have taken this vote and set the stage for the battle in February. So why did so few stand with Cruz on the point of order? Could any of them possibly be so petty as to go on record siding with the Democrats simply because they were incensed over having to work the weekend? Or do they have no intention of actually taking up this fight next month?

There are some disturbing smoke signals on the horizon here.

Ed Morrissey Nov 29, 2021 8:25 AM ET