Killing your own bill is like wanting to kill your own baby, but then, keep in mind that it’s actually a bill.
The episode begins at the Columbia Arts Center. Dan and Amy are here for a not so secret meeting with Gary, who is on official business with orders from Selina. You see, the President is going through a hard time right now due to the unpopularity of the Families First bill. She wants it to go away and needs Amy and Dan to lobby Congressmen under the wire. The question aside of why Selina didn’t pick people more competent at their jobs, Amy and Dan agree to help, but only for money, not out of loyalty to Selina.
At the White House, we’re ten hours away from voting time, but Selina is under the weather and restricted to bed. Kent and Bill enter her quarters with a graph detailing the Yes and No votes. There are currently 211 congressmen slated to vote against the bill, five undecided, and three Yes’ that are being worked on to become No’s. Defeat is just within their grasp and the team has to lose this vote if they want any chance of winning the election. If they can kill the bill, the criticism will hopefully end.
To help Selina with communication, Mike brings her an iPad with a voice app similar to his. He doesn’t want to know details of who is voting for the bill, as it makes his already hard job even more difficult. What won’t be hard, though, is killing the bill, as the team has put their worst people on this.
As if on cue, we cut to the office of Congressman Moyes. Moyes, played by Tom McGowan, listens to Jonah and Richard tell him that Families First is a great bill, but Moyes points out that Title 4, Section 7 negates the entire point of the legislation. Well, someone at least read the bill. Or his staffers did. Whatever. Either way, in addition to the possibility of that section going away, Jonah gives Moyes a folder of numbers. What do the numbers mean? Jonah has no idea.
While Sue sets up an office right outside of Selina’s bedroom, Ben tells Tom that everyone needs to do all that they can in order to stop the bill. Tom, like Mike, doesn’t want to know any of the details- he just wants it done.
The entire team has to watch their language in front of everyone not a part of their inner circle to avoid spilling any details. For example, a doctor advising Selina to get more rest only knows that Moyes is voting no, but the team spills some bullshit and feigns disappointment. Now only four votes are needed to kill the bill. Against Gary’s advice to get more rest, Selina needs to get ready for her meeting with the Secretary of Defense.
With only six hours and 30 minutes to vote time, Amy and Dan speak with Congressman Moyes about how there is absolutely nothing good in the Families First bill. Moyes, though, is already familiar with this and doesn’t need a reminder that he’ll be voting no.
However, he does get suspicious when Dan and Amy give him a folder of numbers- the same folder that Jonah Ryan showed him. Interesting, since Dan and Amy don’t work for the White House. Now, not only is Moyes interested in the possibility that Meyer wants her own bill to fail, he’s switching his vote to Yes. Great lobbying, these two.
Tom James’ preparation for his Vice Presidential debate is constantly interrupted by Bill and Ben receiving memos from Selina. Selina herself is watching the prep via iPad. I had no idea that iPads could do that. Anyway, as Selina tells her running mate that he needs to be more aggressive, she suddenly learns that Moyes has changed his vote.
Turns out that Ben and Kent both had a list of who Richard and Jonah, as well as Amy and Dan, visited, but the two apparently never compared their lists. Though Ben isn’t going to let Gary question his fucking methods, Tom James most definitely will question Ben’s fucking methods. Someone competent should have done this, but this is Veep, so that’s next to impossible. Mike enters and doesn’t want to anything, but Gary blabs anyway. The team will need to wait for Selina’s meeting with the joint chiefs to end.
Amy isn’t so concerned about this mess. She doesn’t work for Selina anymore anyway, plus she always likes a good cover story. This is fun to her. Dan, though, disagrees and misses the old Amy that was always an uptight bitch.
Team Selina is in freefall. Gary was only supposed to give Amy and Dan access, but if campaign funds are being diverted to them in exchange for lobbying to kill the bill, then the administrating is committing fraud. And if they try to destroy the evidence, then that’s conspiracy to commit fraud. A cash trail would be and is bad news indeed. Tom wants no part of this, but Ben tells him everything, meaning he’s now a part of this. It’s actually that easy to implicate people, looks like.
But then, Selina, who everyone thought was passed out or asleep, is awake and heard everything, meaning she’s now a part of this as well. Ruiz and Moyes have switched to Yes, meaning that it all comes down to one vote: Congressman Owen Pierce.
Over at GW Hospital- the exterior shot lacking any people walking by, despite how busy that intersection is. Will this show ever portray D.C. correctly? I’m rambling now- Pierce’s visit with his mother is interrupted by the arrival of Richard and Jonah, who let him know that the President needs him to vote for the bill.
However, Amy and Dan arrive soon after and try to talk Pierce into voting against the bill, saying that it will negatively affect his district. While the two sides clash, Pierce takes an opportunity to slip out. Amy is soon right behind him and drives off, leaving Dan with Jonah and Richard. Though Jonah still believes that he’s useful here, Dan tells him that he’s only being used because the administration knew he would screw up.
Back at the White House, Selina is preparing to take control of this situation- which she knows nothing about- and wants Pierce in her chambers now. However, she’s losing her voice. The situation worsens when Mike enters and passes on information from a reporter: Moyes thinks that the White House hired lobbyists to destroy its own bill.
The team argues amongst itself until Tom James shuts them all down and demands that they shut their fucking holes. In his eyes, they’re all parasites, an infestation of mediocrity. Their obligation is to serve the President, not themselves. Selina reminds Tom that she does the team talks…but agrees with him. Now go find Pierce.
Amy soon catches up to Pierce in the Sackler Gallery Gift Shop, but is soon joined by Dan, Jonah, and Richard. They’re en-route to bring Pierce to Selina, but are intercepted by Bill, who takes over from here. As Jonah and Richard have access, Dan and Amy are left in the executive parking lot on their own.
After a brief chat with Tom about the bill, Selina comes face to face with Pierce, who is willing to vote against the bill. In exchange, he can become ambassador of his favorite city. What’s his favorite city? Dallas. It needs to be a foreign city, though, so he picks Paris. That won’t go either. He agrees to vote against the bill, but needs to know now where he’ll be going. Gary, on Selina’s behalf, tells Pierce that he’ll be going to Paris. They can work the details later.
It’s voting time. The team watches the results in and rejoices upon seeing that the bill is dead. They’ve won by not winning. However, all is not completely well yet, as Mike receives a notification that Moyes is threatening to go to the floor for an investigation over what happened today. Ben tells Mike that he needs to deny like he’s never denied before. That should be easy.
Selina delivers a bullshit statement to the American people that she’ll put out a more streamlined Families First bill before Congress. Once that’s done, the President of the United States crawls into bed, all while murmuring “Fuck you, America.”
And like that, “B/ill” shows how much Selina Meyer’s administration is in a sort of…no, not even sort of, it is in a downward tailspin. Things go wrong, yes, but in this instance, Team Selina wants them to go wrong. They’re thinking long-term, even though the short term effects of the bill’s failure could be disastrous for everyone involved, whether through direct involvement or even with passing knowledge.
Now I’m not an expert on anything political, but I’m going to assume that there are plenty of examples of politicians, whether from the tiniest State Representative to even any President, not being a fan of a certain bill. They may threaten to veto, obstruct, filibuster, or employ any stalling tactics to ensure a bill’s defeat. I’ve heard of politicians switching their votes at the last second due to intense pressure from either other politicians or their constituents.
I can’t say I’m familiar with a sitting President lobbying for the defeat of their own bill that they’ve fought so hard for, just so they can make sure they win the upcoming election. For Selina to win in the long term, she has to lose in the short term. Okay, fine, but to do so by enlisting the help of outside lobbyists is even worse and reeks of gross management.
This is Veep, so gross management is par for the course, but this plan could have worked if there had been better communication. This is one of those times where you’d probably want to have Mike handy, but since he’s trying to play plausible deniability, it falls to Ben and Kent to help Selina’s failure succeed. Too bad they didn’t make sure that Dan and Amy had a very different approach to lobbying than Richard and Jonah.
At the very least, mix up the order in which they visit politicians or give them different sets of data. The fact that Moyes received back to back visits from Jonah and Richard, followed by Dan and Amy, smells suspicious by itself, but it’s confirmed when they have the same sets of useless data. I’m not saying that this surprises me, given the show we’re talking about, but Kent and Ben could have been a bit smarter than this since they’re more competent at their jobs, I think, than either Dan or Amy.
It’s interesting that Selina is now rushing to make sure her bill dies in a fire. Up until now, she championed it and it seemed like Tom James would do a better job selling it to constituents, but the growing unpopularity has caused her to throw it to the wind altogether. It’s a risky move to take and part of me wonders whether Families First would have been such a liability that it would cost her the election. Given the problems found in the bill and how poorly it appears to have been written, that’s not too far off.
But despite Selina being bedridden and sounding like an underwater Bob Dylan, as Mike put it, she still wields power and influence above everyone else on her team. It’s funny that she still manages to give as many orders as she can when she can barely complete a sentence due to her coughing fits.
In-between the sickness, though, we got to see a softer side to Selina during her brief conversation with Tom, which is one of my favorite moments of the episode. She asks him if she’s doing the right thing here, as she feels that even a watered down bill could make a difference in people’s lives. For a moment, we see that Selina realizes that she’s getting flanked from all sides, but does believe in her efforts to help families. The bill may be unpopular, but Selina wants to have a lasting legacy and positive impact in people’s lives.
And even if she can’t speak for herself or doesn’t want Gary to translate for her, we now that Tom will be a solid voice for her. His evisceration of the team was nice to watch. It didn’t tell us anything new about them individually- aside from some new choice insults- but it was good to see Tom rake the team across the coals for their terrible performance, and he’s not wrong. Plus, he went toe-to-toe with Ben on his methods. Dan tried going against Ben and got taken to the cleaners, but Tom stood his ground. He may have his flaws and is still a newcomer to the team, but he’s no pushover.
Dan and Amy’s storyline this week was slightly more interesting than the concrete convention from the previous episode if only because they got more to do than just react. Unfortunately, they ended up in the awkward position of being one step behind Richard and Jonah. I’m not completely sold on why they accepted Gary’s offer in the first place. Working at Sidney Purcell seems to have its perks and Amy even said she was glad that she left, so I wonder why they agreed to help with lobbying when they could have ignored this altogether. Oh well, it gave them something to do and it forced Dan to be stuck with Jonah for a bit, and their banter is always fun.
“B/ill” looks like it could have some major consequences. With Moyes threatening to call for an investigation, Selina bringing in Dan and Amy to lobby congressmen under the wire, and potentially using campaign funds to pay them for their work, the stains on the Meyer administration don’t look to be going away anytime soon. Judging from the preview for next week, it looks like everyone is going to have to testify before a committee. I honestly cannot wait.