Harry Reid invented a new Senate rule tonight, its called “Because I said so!”
Minority leader Mitch McConnell only wanted to do what the President asked, force a speedy vote on Obama’s Jobs bill. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a member of the President’s party would not allow it to happen and he created a new Senate rule to make it happen. Because he didn’t have enough votes for its passage, Reid delayed Senate action on Obama’s bill, Instead he scheduled debate and vote on a bill focusing on China’s currency manipulation.
The President however, has been ostracizing the Republicans for not passing his class warfare jobs bill even though he cannot get it through the branch of Congress his own party controls. In answer to the President’s demands for a vote, Minority McConnell made a “motion to suspend the rules,” to allow a vote on the amendments to the China currency bill,one of which was the Jobs bill. These motions require a two-thirds vote so they are almost always defeated. But the vote would have established for the the Country what was really going on, Obama’s charges about a GOP delay were nothing but a cynical political move made by a president who cares much more about his failing re-election effort than our failing economy.
Here’s where it gets interesting, the Senate has always allowed motions to suspend to be offered (and voted down). In this case however, trying to protect his president, rather than provide transparency to voters Reid broke with precedent and ruled McConnell’s motion out of order.
The Senate parliamentarian admitted the move was unprecedented, but of course the the Democratic chair, ruled in favor of Reid. McConnell appealed the ruling, but by a vote of 51 to 48 the majority Democratic party decided, rather than to allow the vote, which would indicate to the public that they too rejected Obama’s bill, to hide from the voters what was actually going on behind the scenes and to allow the President to continue to unfairly single out the GOP.
In one stroke Harry Reid was able to rewrite Senate rules making it even harder than it already is for the minority party to force votes on any amendments, or even discuss them. This is the Senate, Constitutionally designed to be a deliberative body, but in one fell swoop Harry Reid said no, because he said so. Should Republicans retake the Senate next year, it’s something that could come back to haunt Democrats in a major way.
Senator McConnell took the Senate floor to express his outrage about this unprecedented move:
The Majority Leader in effect has overruled the chair–with a simple majority vote–and established the precedent that even one single motion to suspend, even one, is dilatory. Changing the rules of the Senate…And if you look back at this bill, what we’ve had in effect is no amendments before cloture, no motions to suspend after cloture, no expression on the part of the minority at all…Now, the fundamental problem here is the majority never likes to take votes. That’s the core problem.”
Not quite Senator McConnell, you are being too polite, the core problem is the Majority wants to legislate behind closed doors, just as they did with the original stimulus, just like they did with Obamacare. In their minds it is a great sin if the people who elected them got an honest accounting of what was really happening in the Senate.