Q

quagmire

A situation that is difficult to get out of. It is named after a type of wetland where if you walk through it, you will begin to sink.

In politics, it typically refers to a military action that is difficult to pull out of. Typically this is because leaving would create as many problems as it would solve.

The ‘quagmire theory’ is based on one of these situations: the Vietnam War. It is the theory that the US slowly waded into the war based on misinformation and false promises, and when they finally realized what they had gotten into, it was too late to get out safely.

Chicago Tribune: “The first step into a quagmire inexorably draws one down a slippery slope. [historian Arthur] Schlesinger argued that officials in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations stumbled blindly into Vietnam without understanding where the U.S. commitment would lead. Escalation proceeded through a series of small steps, none of which seemed terribly consequential. Each succeeding step was taken in the optimistic belief that a little more effort – a bit more aid, a few more troops, a slight intensification of the bombing – would turn things around by signaling American resolve to stay the course. Faced with this prospect, the reasoning went, the North Vietnamese communists would sue for peace on American terms. These flawed expectations, Schlesinger argued, arose from a decision-making system characterized by “ignorance, misjudgment and muddle.” A dysfunctional bureaucracy fed presidents misleading and overly rosy intelligence. The Vietnam War debacle, in other words, arose from inadvertence and folly.”

quorum call

A procedure used in both houses of Congress to bring to the floor the number of Members of the House or Senate who must be present for it to conduct its business.

In the Senate, a Senator who has the floor can force a quorum call at almost any time by suggesting the absence of quorum. The presiding officer usually cannot count to determine whether or not a quorum is present. So when a Senator “suggests the absence of a quorum,” the presiding officer directs the Clerk to call the roll of Senators aloud by name. If a majority of Senators respond, a quorum is present and the Senate can return to its business.

However, a quorum call in the Senate usually has a different purpose: most often it is a strategic move that is used to delay proceedings for a variety of reasons — for example, to conduct informal negotiations on or off the Senate floor, or to await a Senator who is expected to make a speech or propose an amendment. If the purpose of a quorum call actually is to bring a majority of Senators to the floor, it is known as a “live” quorum call.

A quorum call in the House seeks to bring a majority of Members to the floor to record their presence after the absence of a quorum has been established. In the House, a Member makes a point of order that a quorum is not present, usually only when a vote is taking place. The Speaker (or the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole) then counts to determine if a quorum is present. If a majority of Members fail to respond to a quorum call, the House must adjourn or take steps to secure the attendance of enough Members to constitute a quorum.

Source: Congressional Glossary

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