Skip to comments.GOP vows retaliation after Reid uses nuclear option in Senate
Posted on 10/08/2011 2:12:00 PM PDT by jazusamo
Senate Republicans vow they will retaliate for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reids (D-Nev.) decision to unilaterally change the Senates rules Thursday without prior warning or negotiation.
Republican aides say their bosses will now be even more reluctant to allow the Senate to conduct routine business by unanimous consent, forcing Reid to gather 60 votes for even the most mundane matters.
Reid fired a major salvo and its hard to imagine a return shot wont be fired. Maybe over the weekend theyll come up with something and try to make it less worse than it already is, said a Senate GOP leadership aide.
Partisan anger hit a boiling point in the chamber this week after Republicans refused to allow final passage of a China currency bill unless Democrats voted on President Obamas jobs package, as originally drafted.
Triggering what has come to be known as the chambers nuclear option, Reid overturned Senate precedent that allowed Republicans to force votes to proceed to non-germane amendments. He did so by voting with 50 of his Democratic colleagues to overturn a ruling by the Senate parliamentarian.
The controversial procedural tactic hasnt been used in years. In a chamber where it requires the consent of all 100 senators to dispense with the reading of a bill, changing the rules unilaterally is considered bad form.
Former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) predicted Thursdays blow-up on the floor would have aftershocks.
Its obviously consequential and significant, he said of the surprise rules change.
Eric Ueland, who served as chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), also predicted repercussions.
Usually if you set off a nuke, youre responsible for the fallout," he said. Theres likely to be fallout here to the extent members on either side of the aisle feel this new gag rule impedes their ability to legislate. That has ramifications down the line.
More than majority leaders before him, Reid has used a tactic known as filling the amendment tree to block Republicans from offering politically charged amendments to legislation. He has done this to protect vulnerable members of his caucus from taking tough votes.
He did it on the China currency bill that was being debate when he triggered the nuclear option. Republicans had no recourse to force a vote on Obamas jobs package than to offer a motion to suspend the rules after the Senate had already voted to move to final passage.
By changing the rules Thursday, Reid barred Republicans from forcing votes even on motions to suspend the rules to proceed to amendments designed to send a political message.
One GOP strategist said giving the minority an opportunity to vote on these message amendments lets partisan steam out of the kettle.
Now that Republicans have been deprived this outlet, they warn pressure will build up, threatening an explosion.
Reid halted Senate business in the middle of consideration of the China bill Thursday night and rescheduled a return to work for Tuesday, giving angry Republicans time to cool off.
He and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Senate Democrats messaging and strategy guru, have also proposed a bipartisan caucus meeting, to give lawmakers on both sides of the aisle chance to talk out their frustrations.
Reid said he would be happy to sit down with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in an effort to mend fences.
Im sure we can all cinch up our belts and, as they say in the old and new testament, gird our loins and try to do a better job of how we get along here, Reid said.
One of the things I want to do is have a joint caucus, he said. I want to have one with Democratic senators and Republican senators and at that time we can all talk about some of the frustrations we all have.
McConnell has yet to respond to the overture.
Reid and McConnell entered into a gentlemens agreement at the beginning of the year to allow the Senates business to proceed more smoothly.
Reid promised to give Republicans opportunities to offer amendments, and McConnell pledged not to filibuster motions to proceed to legislation, unless the legislation is highly controversial.
Schumer and Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) also worked out an agreement to allow hundreds of mid-level administration nominees to be appointed without Senate confirmation.
Senate aides say the gentlemens agreement and spirit of bipartisan cooperation that existed in January are now dead.
Schumer admits things havent worked out as planned.
The senator from Tennessee and I talked about that frustration at the beginning of this session in an attempt [to work it out], he said. Obviously it hasnt worked terribly well.
A Senate Democratic aide said McConnell is responsible for the collapse of the gentlemens agreement.
The aide accused McConnell of acting like a sore loser by trying to force a vote on Obamas jobs package after the Senate already voted to move to final passage of the China bill.
"McConnell isn't happy unless the Senate is in a state of dysfunction. It personally bothered him this week that members on his side bucked him and voted to cut off a filibuster on a bipartisan bill so it could pass the Senate. He got hot under the collar [Thursday] and was grasping at procedural straws to try to tank a bipartisan bill at the eleventh hour, said the aide.
Dorgan said Thursdays floor fight is a sign of the collapse of bipartisan cooperation in the Senate.
Its another step in the confrontation that exists almost constantly now. Not only is there not agreement on policy, theres not agreement on the rules, he said. Its another demonstration the system isnt working at all.
Underlying it all, theres no cooperation on anything, he added. How are we going to show American people that were working on their problems?
Gee, an anonymous Senate Dem aide said it's all McConnell's fault, Harry and Chuck should speak for themselves.
Sadly the Republicans have short memories, especially RINOs, I doubt they'll be retaliation.
“The controversial procedural tactic hasnt been used in years. In a chamber where it requires the consent of all 100 senators to dispense with the reading of a bill, changing the rules unilaterally is considered bad form.”
Make them read every line of every bill into the record.
Exactly...It would drastically slow down legislation and that would be a good thing.
Senator John McAmnesty will NEVER stand for GOP partisan tactics! He is able to “reach across the aisle” and “work with his friends” on the demorat side.
Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war. Nothing will now get done till the next election.
Wow, who should’ve thunk that some GOP senators had gonads.
Refreshing to know.
Get some stones Republicans. It’s about time. No bills passed until this Commie in the White House is thrown out of office!
I’m certain McCain and Graham are working on a very stern letter right now.
No, GOP senators have not gotten gonads. This story is about hollow words from unidentified ‘staffers’.
As my favorite fictional lawyer, Perry Mason, would have said: “... some GOP Senators had gonads . . You have assumed facts not in evidence.”
If you expect the whores in the Senate to follow McConnell, forget it. Mitch McConnell couldn’t lead a troop of randy scouts through a Chinese cat house with a fistful of cash and a wallet full of credit cards. McConnell is all blow and no go.
Now let them introduce another 2,000 page bill like ZeroCare. They would get to vote on it sometime after 2012.
Problem is republican’s in the senate have no guts or backbone..Seriously don’t like Reid, but he does get an A or guts and backbone against the republican senators...Must get rid of the rino leaders to make the democrats pay for their action and I don’t remember any republican senator having any guts or backbone..
Ron Johnson has been withholding his consent periodically throughout the summer. You know - the Senator from Wisconsin who didn’t have a chance to beat Russ Feingold because he was just a business man with no previous political experience?
Ooohhh... I'm even more scared now that they're "more reluctant."
“Is this Harry Reid’s Battle of the Bulge?”...I think so, even our softer Republican Senators will turn the other cheek for only so long.
Did it work "terribly" or "well?" It can't be "terribly well," can it?
I guess if the "messaging guru" says so...
Good for Sen. Johnson, the plain ole businessman. :-)
We need a lot more like him!
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