Friday, February 25, 2011
From Random Musings, just add this to a list of strange things that have happened in what will likely be seen as a historic and bizarre week in the Arizona Legislature. In the Senate Judiciary Committee, immigration bills proposed by Russell Pearce were having trouble getting out of committee because Sens. Adam Driggs and John McComish were siding with Democrats. So...
Given that the committee had eight members, that meant the best possible outcome for the measures was failure on a 4 - 4 tie vote. A measure needs five out of eight members to support it in order for it to go forward.
Note the use of the past tense "had" in the last sentence.
Pearce could have simply removed Driggs or McComish, or both, from the committee. That's his privilege as Senate President.
However, internal politics make such a peremptory move problematical - McComish and Driggs are both incredibly conservative and cannot be attacked as "RINOs". In addition, McComish was Pearce's chief rival for the Senate presidency, and arbitrarily removing him from a committee could smack of unwarranted retribution. Pearce's position atop the Senate pecking order, while not exactly "tenuous," is based in no small part on a promise to complete the budget before pushing through his pet anti-immigrant bills.
A promise that he has thoroughly broken.
So he has now done the next best thing - he has simply added another, more pliable, member to the committee, bringing its membership count to nine.
Wednesday, he added Sen. Scott Bundgaard to the committee without removing anyone else.
By handling things in this manner, Pearce kept the number of votes necessary to pass a bill at "five" but also was able to add a fifth reliable vote to the committee. He also was able to bring the committee back under control without appearing to be vindictive (he may, in fact, *be* vindictive, but this doesn't make him *look* that way).
So, maybe this is a little too optimistic, but at some point will the sane Republicans get sick of these tricks? What about the House? You'd think the Republican senators would be a little irritated that Pearce lied to get the President gig, but who knows?