Skip to comments.Senate to hold closed joint caucus
Posted on 12/08/2006 1:49:35 PM PST by NormsRevenge
WASHINGTON - The first thing the new, Democratic-led Senate will do next year is meet in a closed "bipartisan caucus" to help set a more pleasant tone than the relentless backbiting of the Congress now heading home, party leaders said Friday.
Far from lawmakers conducting business in secret as open-government advocates warn the meeting would serve only to sweep away grudges and smooth the way for more action, the leaders said.
"We won't always agree but can sit down, side by side, and forge consensus on the issues important to the American people," incoming Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said in a joint statement with his Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
McConnell said, "Republicans intend to be as cooperative as possible to help the Senate get off to a good start next year."
Spokesmen for the lawmakers said the meeting would not amount to a closed session of the Senate under the chamber's rules.
However, any meeting of 100 senators with rules of any kind is by definition a meeting of the Senate, said Brian Darling, director of Senate relations for The Heritage Foundation.
"It would be a de facto meeting of the Senate and although they want to call it something else, it is," Darling said.
"To set up something and to plan something between the leaders is very unusual and should be subject to open government rules," he added. "Their intentions are good, but the results of what they're doing will be not good for the American people."
The Jan. 4 meeting, to be held in the hours before the new Democratic majority formally opens the 110th Congress, will take place in the Old Senate Chamber. It would be the first meeting of the full Senate in the historic room since President Clinton's 1999 impeachment trial.
The plans were disclosed Friday, as a Congress still under Republican control was being accused by Democrats of being a "do-nothing" institution.
The gathering could establish a precedent expanding the kinds of "executive sessions" that up to now have been relatively rare.
Still, McConnell spokesman Don Stewart likened the proposal to closed weekly policy lunches that the Republican and Democratic caucuses hold separately.
"We won't be transacting legislative business," Stewart said.
The Senate met in private until 1794 in the belief that its role providing counsel to the executive branch compelled closed proceedings.
Since 1929, the Senate has held 54 closed sessions, generally for reasons of national security, according to a Sept. 27 report of the Congressional Research Service. Democrats last year forced a closed session of the Senate to discuss Iraq war intelligence.
Closed sessions of the Senate are held periodically to discuss specific, sensitive business, such as impeachment deliberations, matters of national security and sensitive communications from the president, according to the report by the Congressional Research Service.
Members and staff who attend the meetings have been prohibited from divulging details, and transcripts have not been published unless the chamber votes to release them.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., center, answers questions on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2006 after being to presented with the Irag Study Group's report on the situation in Iraq. Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., left, and Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., look on. (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)
... the meeting would serve only to sweep away grudges and smooth the way for more action, the leaders said.
Let the games begin!
more "study groups"?
Iraq Study Group Co-Chairman, former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, right, addresses the Congressional leadership on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2006 to present the Group's report on situation in Iraq. From left are, Iraq Study Group member, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Iraq Study Group Co-Chairman, former Indiana Rep. Lee Hamilton, current-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tenn., incoming Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. and Baker. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)
U.S. President Bush speaks during a bicameral and bipartisan congressional meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, December 8, 2006. From L to R are: House Republican Whip-elect Roy Blunt, incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Republican Leader-elect John Boehner (R-OH), Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL), President Bush, Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) and Senator Harry Reid (D-NV). REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES)
Harry Reid's New bi-partisanism = My way or no way.
Why do I hear Reggae music when I read that headline?
With boarish bullies like Webb going in, I doubt any good manners will prevail in the new Congress.
Lol. It's a joint caucus, mon!
The start of a two year farce.
Please notice the one word in that article that should make us all worry.."concensus"...and that was spoken by Harry Reid...
THAT is NOT a good sign...remember, one of the reasons the GOP suffered before was the close "cooperation" between Lott and Daschle.
What with the "Gang of 14"...and the RINOS still left...all this will do will set it up in NOT a good way if Pres. Bush is impeached in the House...
I saw Harry giving a speech on the Senate floor today, and he was praising the "bravery" of the Gang of 14 to stop a "dangerous" precedent.....
Ok now that we're in a closed session, how fast do we want to grow the federal government, and what in the constitution do we want to update, oh, also how much of a raise should we vote for ourselves in May?
Oh..you mentioned "more 'study groups'"???
Sens. Lieberman and Collins have come out today and said they want ANOTHER ISG..this time with Senate leaders!!!
"I call dis meetin' ta order, mon!"
Mon, dis stuff be so good, All I be seein be nuffin but red x's (Ha!) :)
If the Congress isn't in session the Republicans can't be compelled to attend. I hope they sit this one out.
Actually what McConnell said was: "Republican intend to cave into every demand from the dimocrats. We plan to turn tail and run, cower in the corner, become beasts of burden, take all blame, crap on our constituents, screw the public, turn our backs on the troops, and anything else the dimocrats demand we do. We are weak kneed and have no spine. We are simply worthless."