The Whip is the person who counts the votes, and whipping votes looks like leadership deliberately applying pressure on rank and file members so that a member votes the way leadership wants.
So, we’re at that point in legislative session where we have to convince the Big Dogs which bills should go to “the floor” for a vote by the whole Chamber (House or Senate).
🐕 After a bill leaves the Rules Committee (a refresher, if you need it), where bills largely just get fact-checked, it has to be put on the floor’s agenda by leadership. Those people include, respectively, the Speaker of The House Laurie Jinkins and House Majority Whip Rep. Marcus Riccelli, and Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig and Majority Whip Emily Randall.
🍾 This is where a lot of bills bottleneck. But one common mistake here is leaving it up to the Speakers to assess probabilities (whip counts, or informal vote counts) and prioritize importance.
🍽️ First, legislators are more honest with the Speakers and Whips because they have full confidentiality. Then the Speakers, Whips (and their lovely staff—who are trying to unionize, by the way) are left to put the pieces together. That leaves bills vulnerable to sliding off the plate during the dinner rush.
😂 The solution? Do your own whip count!
🔀 The single biggest asset you have as an advocate is to convince leadership that this thing will be easy. That means having as close to an updated whip count as possible. Ask every single member you need to support your bill as a fail-safe for getting to that 50 count. Make sure this commitment or response is done in public, in writing, or spoken directly to you and at least one other person for accountability purposes.
😤 But let’s say, after all this, you’re still not at 50. Try to get as close as you can! While 44 or less in the House and 22 or less in the Senate could seal a bill’s fate for the graveyard, 45+ in the House and 23+ in the Senate and Speaker support means you could very well convince the Big Dogs! (They’ll only have to twist a few arms to get it over the finish line.)
What do you think? Have any questions? Tweet us your thoughts @wacommalliance. Keep up with the action and opportunities to get involved with our legislative newsletter The Tally.