|Source:The Young Turks- U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat, Nevada)|
"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has angered Republicans with a controversial maneuver that weakens the power of the Minority party. Did he do this because he believes Democrats will soon be the Minority party? The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur explains."
From The Young Turks
I'm about to write a fairly wonky post here designed for political junkies such as myself and able to put the rest of the population to sleep. So you now heard my warning and like they say in the movies, this is not attended to all viewers and viewer discretion is advised.
This post is about the U.S. Senate (the upper chamber in Congress) which is an actually bicameral legislature. (Newsflash for leftists) And how the Senate operates and how it's supposed to operate and how the Senate Republican Leadership has abused its rules in order to stop the Senate Democratic Leadership from doing anything. And to give this impression of the Senate that it's locked in gridlock.
Thanks to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Senate Republican Conference, as well as I'm sure Senate Democratic obstructionism when they were in the minority, the Senate needs to reform its rules, not to make it more like the U.S. House of Representatives, but to still respect minority rights in the Senate, like they should be respected in the rest of the country.
The Senate needs to be able to function, brings legislation to the floor, votes on amendments, including alternatives from the minority party, but then debate and vote. Especially on non-controversial legislation, so that the minority party leadership could still block legislation, but that they just can't prevent legislation from being brought to the floor, debated and amended and then after the debates, if the minority leadership has the votes, then they can block legislation, they just can't prevent legislation from being brought to the floor, amended and debated that the Senate would be able to conduct its business.
What Senate Leader Harry Reid did Thursday night and I actually saw the debate and discussion, because again I'm a political junky, was bring and pass a motion with a 51-48 vote (of course) a party-line vote, that would prevent any Senator from bringing non-germane amendments to the Senate floor.
With Leader Raid's motion, no Senator can bring an agriculture amendment to a defense bill. And Leader Reid did this because Senate Republicans have brought countless non-germane amendments to legislation that Leader Reid has brought to the floor, knowing that they didn't have the votes to pass them. But just to slow the debate down and make the Senate Democratic Leadership jump through more hoops in order to bring a Senate debate to an end with the cloture rule. Which I'll explain later. (Hopefully you are still awake at that point)
So what Senate Republicans have done and I'm guessing under the leadership of their Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is every time Senate Democrats bring legislation to the floor, Senate Republicans bring as many amendments to the legislation that they can in an attempt to drag on the debate as long as they can and they've done this on anything that Senate Democrats bring to the floor. Including on legislation that ultimately passes with bipartisan votes.
As a result of all of this obstructionism, Leader Reid has decided that he's seen enough, even though I believe it's a little late in the game for this. He's should've done it in the last Congress when he had 59 votes, but this is a good move in attempt to get the Senate moving again. Especially on things like the American Jobs Act, where Senate Democrats are going to make a huge push to pass it. After they amend it and even pay for it with a tax hike on millionaires and above to pay for it. Which of course Senate Republicans would try to block and try to pass this legislation.
Even if the Republican House doesn't pass a jobs act of their own, but then Senate Democrats will at least be able to say that they are in charge of the Senate and its Congressional Republicans that are in their way. But the Senate needs to go farther to make the Senate more functional. Like eliminating the motion to proceed rule, which takes 60 votes, or at least amend it to 51 votes for the Majority Leader to bring up legislation and just to debate anything. As well as limiting blocking of legislation with the cloture rule to just the final votes on legislation.
Instead of the U.S. Senate being the "most deliberative legislative body in the world" it's become a debating society (and has given the United Nations a great name) where all they do now is talk about how they are going to talk. Meaning how they are going to debate and they are going to consider. Which is why they need these rule reforms and even go farther like having a real rules committee like in the House , but different, make it bipartisan. Instead of spending time debating how they are going to debate on the Senate floor.