WASHINGTON DC –
In a parliamentary move designed to lull members of congress into a stupor before voting, the House Ways and Means Committee this week inserted text from the beloved children’s book “Goodnight Moon” into the preamble of the President’s tax reform bill.
Seldom Used Tactic
The “Goodnight Moon Maneuver” as it is known in House parlance, has been used only rarely. Members last employed it to pass the Bush tax cuts in 2001 which reduced the tax bracket for millionaires by 3.5%.
“The hope is that House Members, who are exhausted from reading hundreds of pages of the bill, not to mention the constant pressure from lobbyists and constituents, will become so sleepy when they hear the familiar lines that they will quickly vote for the bill just so they can head off for a nap,” said US Congress historian Bart Brentwater. “The prospect of finally getting some rest will likely weigh heavily in their decision.”
Just Vote Yes, Honey
The Goodnight Moon Maneuver is usually carried out in two steps:
The bill’s preamble is read from the podium by a House member with an especially deep, soothing voice – preferably a baritone. Simultaneously, female pages walk the aisles shushing those members who are still talking, and gently urging anyone showing signs of sleep to “just vote yes honey, and then you can go to bed.”
“They’ll probably choose one of the huskier Representatives from the south to read,” said Mr. Brentwater, “since a southern accent is generally more relaxing. And larger bodies tend to have more resonance, which can be calming.”
The Fatigue Of Failure
Should the tax bill fail to pass, members will be faced with the prospect of returning to fractious subcommittees and hundreds of hours of debate with no clear path forward. “They would essentially be starting from scratch, and would likely need to work with democrats who will use the situation to their advantage in the next election.”
“The prospect of failing to pass this bill would make anyone tired. It’s making me tired just talking about it,” said Mr. Brentwater.
Extreme Measures A Necessity
In using the Goodnight Moon maneuver, House leadership is hoping to avert what strategists refer to as the “nuclear option”.
This includes the additional step of playing Brahms Lullaby as Goodnight Moon is read during the vote. While effective, the leadership wants to avoid use of the sleep-inducing melody, knowing that democrats might later avail themselves of it in the future.
However, Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows said he has the lullaby loaded on his iPod and ready to go, and will play it if necessary, provided he can locate his audio cord before the bill comes up for a vote.
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