By ROBERT LAURIE – Good riddance
Well, unfortunately, Senator John Cornyn’s CCW expansion amendment – which would have made a Concealed Weapons permit from one state applicable in all the others – failed. The vote was 57-43, which is awfully close considering the Dems have spent months arguing against it.
The good news is that Diane Feinstein’s ridiculous “Assault Weapons Ban” has also gone down in flames. The vote was 40 Yea, 60 Nay. That’s a very solid defeat. Not even close.
The odds are that Reid will pull the entire bill from the floor, most liely tomorrow morning. Rest assured, they’ll be back, but for now, savor the win.
In an apparent slip of the tongue, Harry Reid this morning referred to the gun-control bill he brought to the Senate floor as “anti-gun legislation.”
“On the anti-gun legislation before the Senate, we are making good progress on the effort to schedule a series of votes on amendments to the anti-gun violence legislation before the Senate.”
Some, however, are questioning whether the Senate minority leader accidentally revealted his true feelings. GOP sentaor Ted Cruz, a leading opponent of the bill, questioned whether Reid’s statement was in fact a “Freudian slip.” He said in a Tweet:
Freudian slip? Sen. Harry Reid calls bill “anti-gun legislation” youtube.com/watch?v=pHj6KA…
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) April 16, 2013
Senate Democrats are struggling to corral votes for the bill, which faces an uphill battle. A cloture vote on the compromise amendment proposed by GOP senator Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Manchin could come as early as Thursday.
Life is good when you’re in the majority—and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) seems to believe he’ll be there forever.
Reid has already effectively shut down the opportunity for minority Senators to offer amendments to bills. Now he is angling to change the Senate’s rules so that minority members cannot filibuster a bill.
The way the Senate is set up, every Senator has the ability to debate legislation. But as Heritage senior legal fellow Hans von Spakovsky notes, “If members lose these abilities, the majority party will have the unchecked capability to shut off debate and pass legislation without opposition.”
The filibuster—famously depicted in the movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington—actually doesn’t happen that often. As Senator Jim DeMint wrote for Heritage in November, “The last person to engage in a genuine filibuster was the ultraliberal Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. In 2010, He spoke on the Senate floor for eight hours straight in an attempt to defeat legislation to extend tax rates.”
In recent years, Republicans have not filibustered legislation, despite Reid’s current crusade. DeMint notes that “filibusters have not prevented the Democrat-led Senate from passing a budget over the past three years, preventing the so-called ‘fiscal cliff,’ or taking steps to reduce our $16 trillion and rising debt. Harry Reid has.”
To shut down debate takes a vote of three-fifths of the Senate. But Reid wants to change longstanding Senate rules so that a simple majority of 51 Senators could end any debate. This has been called the “nuclear option.”
Of course, Reid seems to assume that his party will never lose the majority, and this rule change would work forever in his favor. Both Reid and President Obama have previously argued against changing the rules when it wouldn’t benefit them.
In 2005, then-Senator Barack Obama correctly argued:
what [the American people] don’t expect, is for one party, be it Republican or Democrat, to change the rules in the middle of the game so that they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet…everyone in this chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster—if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate—then the fighting and the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse.
Reid isn’t the only one looking to change the Senate rules. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Carl Levin (D-MI) are now claiming that their plan for a bipartisan “reform” of Senate procedures is a better idea. But von Spakovsky explains that it would “create a new category of super senators who will be empowered to participate in the legislative process to the exclusion of rank-and-file members.” It would concentrate power in the hands of only four Senators, excluding the other 96 from being able to offer amendments to legislation.
“This proposal may be worse than Reid’s because it would empower the leadership of both parties to the detriment of open debate and a free amendment process available to all members,” von Spakovsky writes.
The Senate’s rules were set up for very good reasons. Von Spakovsky reminds us that “George Washington told Jefferson that the Senate was intended to ‘cool’ House legislation in the same way that a saucer was used to cool hot tea.” Unlike the House, in the Senate, every state has equal representation, and every Senator should have a voice. If the rules change every time the majority party changes, the Senate will lose its ability to deliberate in the way it was designed.
The real battle on the filibuster? Judges.
Article below by Steven Duffield of Crossroads GPS details how the filibuster would impact judicial nominations.
Harry Reid’s filibuster plan and the Supreme Court
by Steven J. Duffield
January 3, 2013
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has announced he will begin the new Congress today by violating Senate rules and forcing through a set of procedural changes that will undermine Senate conservatives’ ability to influence legislation. But the “Reid Plan” will have its most dramatic impact on presidential nominations, especially for the Supreme Court.
The Senate is a unique legislative body that protects the rights of individual senators both to debate and to amend. These rights are valued so highly that it takes a supermajority — today, 60 votes — to deny fellow senators those rights. This higher vote threshold and the prospect of extended debate encourage deliberation, compromise and moderation.
Many Senate liberals want to gut this long-standing protection for minorities. Buried in the Reid Plan is a new rule, the “standing filibuster requirement,” that will allow a partisan majority to shut off deliberation and pass legislation by a bare majority. Disguised as a debate-promoting measure, this new plan is actually just a mechanism to eliminate the higher vote threshold that has long been required to proceed to final passage of bills and nominations.
This spells the effective end to minority rights in the Senate. Today’s 60-vote bar to end debate will be gone, and the Senate will be transformed into President Obama’s rubber stamp.
Making matters worse, Reid plans to impose his plan by breaking Senate rules with the “nuclear option,” a parliamentary trick that will explode any lingering comity among senators. Once the nuclear option is deployed to impose the Reid Plan, it is far more likely to be used again and again to undermine minority rights. This pattern will ultimately make the Senate a mirror image of the House.
The most dramatic impact of the Reid Plan will be with regard to the Supreme Court, where the House of Representatives plays no constitutional role. President Obama will likely fill between one and three Supreme Court vacancies in the next four years, and he will be under enormous pressure from his base to nominate doctrinaire liberals who will reverse the decision upholding the partial-birth abortion ban, weaken personal liberties protected in the Bill of Rights, and eliminate the modest limitations on congressional power that the Rehnquist and Roberts courts have restored.
Senate conservatives will strongly oppose such a nominee. Conservatives already used their rights to extend debate to effectively block lower-court nominees such as “living Constitution” advocate Goodwin Liu and the highly controversial Caitlin Halligan. Each will be on the president’s shortlist for the Supreme Court. Yet if the Reid Plan is in effect, senators will be powerless to prevent the appointment of Liu, Halligan or similar judicial activists, because the 60-vote threshold will be gone and Obama’s party will just fall in line behind his choice.
The future of the Supreme Court isn’t the only thing at stake. While it’s unlikely that liberals will gain control of the House any time soon, it is not out of the question that Obama could command a unified, one-party government in his last two years. Under Reid’s new rules, the president could pass any legislation he wanted without negotiating with conservatives and taking their views into account. That means higher taxes, more spending, bigger government and no chance of entitlement reform.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has promised massive resistance to the Reid gambit, but he will need public support. Americans should be asking themselves if they want to make it easier for Congress to rubber-stamp the president’s whims, or if deliberative democracy and minority rights still matter.
Steven J. Duffield is vice president for policy at Crossroads GPS.
Democrat Leader Once Promised He ‘Would Never, Ever Consider Breaking The Rules To Change The Rules,’ Called It ‘Illegal’ And ‘Un-American’
SEN. REID: ‘Changing The Rules By Breaking The Rules, Is About As Far As You Could Get From A Constitutional Option’
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “I would never, ever consider breaking the rules to change the rules. I never suggested that at all. I say to my friend, I want to work something out. I repeat that for probably the fifth time here today, but in the process we cannot give up the basic rights this country and this Senate have had for more than 200 years.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4242, 4/26/05)
· REID: “As I said, violating 217 years of standard procedure in the Senate, changing the rules by breaking the rules, is about as far as you could get from a constitutional option.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.5250, 5/17/05)
· REID: “One of the good things about this institution we have found in the 214 years it has been in existence is that the filibuster, which has been in existence since the beginning, from the days of George Washington–we have changed the rules as relates to it a little bit but never by breaking the rules.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4437, 4/27/05)
· REID: “The time has come for those Senators of the majority to decide where they stand, whether they will abide by the rules of the Senate or break the rules for the first time in 217 years–217 years–of American history. Will they support the checks and balances established by the Founding Fathers… It is hard for me to intellectually understand, emotionally understand how a Senator could say they know we are right but they are willing to break the rules to change the rules.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.5198, 5/16/05)
· REID: “…there is no cause for the majority to break the rules and 217 years of Senate traditions to take that right away. Mr. Smith should still be able to come to Washington, with either a Democratic or Republican Senate.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4613, 5/9/05)
· REID: “Ultimately, this is about removing the last check in Washington against complete abuse of power, the right to extended debate.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4238, 4/26/05)
· REID: “You have to break the rules to change them in this instance because if you follow the rules, you cannot do it with a simple majority. … We cannot go down that slippery slope.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4464, 4/28/05)
SEN. REID: ‘Un-American,’ ‘Illegal,’ ‘Improper,’ ‘A Partisan Political Grab,’ ‘Want Absolute Power’
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “The Senate is a body of moderation. While the House is the voice of a single man, single woman, and the House of Representatives is a voice of the majority, the Senate is the forum of the States. It is the saucer that cools the coffee. It is the world’s greatest deliberative body. How will we call this the world’s greatest deliberative body after the majority breaks the rules to silence the minority? Breaking the rules to change the rules. … They don’t want consensus or compromise. They don’t want advice and consent. They want absolute power. To get it, the President and majority leader will do all they can to silence the minority in the Senate and remove the last check we have in Washington against this abuse of power.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.5456, 5/19/05)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “For people to suggest that you can break the rules to change the rules is un-American. The only way you can change the rule in this body is through a rule that now says, to change a rule in the Senate rules to break a filibuster still requires 67 votes. You can’t do it with 60. You certainly cannot do it with 51. But now we are told the majority is going to do the so-called nuclear option. We will come in here, having the Vice President seated where my friend and colleague from Nevada is seated. The Parliamentarian would acknowledge it is illegal, it is wrong, you can’t do it, and they would overrule it. It would simply be: We are going to do it because we have more votes than you. You would be breaking the rules to change the rules. That is very un-American.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4043, 4/21/05)
· REID: “The majority can’t get what they want so they break the rules to change the rules. We believe the traditions of the Senate should be maintained. We believe if you are going to change the rules in the Senate, change them legally, not illegally.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4043, 4/21/05)
· REID “They are talking about doing something illegal. They are talking about breaking the rules to change the rules, and that is not appropriate. That is not fair, and it is not right.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4238, 4/26/05)
· REID: “The American people, in effect, reject the nuclear option because they see it for what it is–an abuse of power, arrogance of power. Lord Acton said power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. … That is what is going on. The rules are being changed in the middle of the game. They are breaking the rules to change the rules. Regardless of one’s political affiliation, Americans understand this is a partisan political grab.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4238, 4/26/05)
· REID: “I would answer to my friend, not only is there a suggestion about changing the rules, but they are going to do it by breaking the rules. To change a rule here in the Senate takes a simple majority. But if somebody wants to speak in an extensive manner relating to that rule change , you have to break a filibuster. They are not willing to do that. They are going to use brute force and break the rules to change the rules. That is what they are talking about.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4436, 4/27/05)
· REID: “The world is watching us. We should not be changing the rules by breaking the rules. We should not do that.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4614, 5/9/05)
· REID: “We believe in following the rules, not breaking the rules. And while it is good to talk about this up-or-down vote, the fact is if we move forward as contemplated by the majority, it is moving toward breaking the rules to change the rules. That is improper. It will change the Senate forever and that is not good.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.5375, 5/18/05)
· REID: “To change the rules in the Senate can’t be done by a simple majority. It can only be done if there is extended debate by 67 votes. So I do not at all say that the statements made by the Republican leader were wrong about our wanting votes and we were disturbed that there are no votes, but we never, ever suggested that rules should be broken.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.5455, 5/19/05)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “You remember when you were growing up and you had this kid who was never happy? You couldn’t win a game because he kept changing the rules in the middle of the game, and if you didn’t allow the change, all he did was whine about it? … What is going on in Washington? Trying to change the rules in the middle of the game is un-American.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4437, 4/27/05)
Dem Leader Once Said ‘The Need To Muster 60 Votes… Is A Tool That Serves The Long-Term Interest Of The Senate And The American People’
DEM LEADER: ‘One Of The Most Sacred Rules Of The Senate’
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “As majority leader, I intend to run the Senate with respect for the rules and for the minority rights the rules protect. The Senate was not established to be efficient. Sometimes the rules get in the way of efficiency. The Senate was established to make sure that minorities are protected. Majorities can always protect themselves, but minorities cannot. That is what the Senate is all about.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.11591, 12/8/06)
· REID: “For more than 200 years, the rules of the Senate have protected the American people, and rightfully so. The need to muster 60 votes in order to terminate Senate debate naturally frustrates the majority and oftentimes the minority. I am sure it will frustrate me when I assume the office of majority leader in a few weeks. But I recognize this requirement is a tool that serves the long-term interest of the Senate and the American people and our country.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.11591, 12/8/06)
· REID: “I say on this floor that I love so much that I believe in the Golden Rule. I am going to treat my Republican colleagues the way that I expect to be treated. There is no ‘I’ve got you,’ no get even. I am going to do everything I can to preserve the traditions and rules of this institution that I love.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.11591, 12/8/06)
· REID: “…one of the most sacred rules of the Senate – the filibuster… It is a unique privilege that serves to aid small states from being trampled by the desires of larger states. Indeed, I view the use of the filibuster as a shield, rather than a sword. Invoked to protect rights, not to suppress them.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.434, 1/5/95)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): “The American people want less partisanship in this town, but everyone in this Chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster, if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting, the bitterness, and the gridlock will only get worse.” (Sen. Obama, Congressional Record, S.3512, 4/13/05)
· OBAMA: “[T]he American people sent us here to be their voice… What they do not expect is for one party, be it Republican or Democrat, to change the rules in the middle of the game so they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet.” (Sen. Obama, Congressional Record, S.3512, 4/13/05)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY) On Any Threat To The Filibuster: “The basic makeup of our Senate is at stake. The checks and balances that Americans prize are at stake. The idea of bipartisanship, where you have to come together and can’t just ram everything through because you have a narrow majority, is at stake. The very things we treasure and love about this grand republic are at stake.” (Sen. Schumer, Congressional Record, S.4801, 5/10/05)
· SCHUMER: “We are on the precipice of a crisis, a constitutional crisis. The checks and balances which have been at the core of this republic are about to be evaporated by the nuclear option. The checks and balances which say that if you get 51% of the vote you don’t get your way 100% of the time. It is amazing it’s almost a temper tantrum… They want their way every single time, and they will change the rules, break the rules, misread the Constitution so they will get their way.” (Sen. Schumer, Congressional Record, S.5208, 5/16/05)
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL): “Those who would attack and destroy the institution of the filibuster are attacking the very force within the Senate that creates compromise and bipartisanship.” (Sen. Durbin, Congressional Record, S.3763, 4/15/05)
· DURBIN: The filibuster is “[one] of the most treasured and cherished traditions of the United States Senate.” “Many of us in the Senate feel that this agreement tonight means that some of the most treasured and cherished traditions of the United States Senate will be preserved, will not be attacked and will not be destroyed.” (Sen. Durbin, “Statement Of Sen. Dick Durbin Regarding The Agreement On Judicial Nominations In The Senate,” Press Release, 5/23/05)
From the The Weekly Standard:
Senate majority leader Harry Reid is holding up the Senate to allow a vote on a bill introduced by embattled Democrat Jon Tester.
“Electoral politics appears to be interfering with the Senate’s ability to wrap up its business and hit the campaign trail,” Roll Call reports. “In an eleventh-hour attempt to help a vulnerable incumbent – Montana Democrat Jon Tester – Senate Democrats say they will insist on a vote on Tester’s bill to ease restrictions on hunters and sportsmen before Congress adjourns for the elections.”
The bill Reid wants the Senate to vote on is the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012. Or, as one political hand dubbed the legislation, “the get Jon Tester reelected bill.”
It’s a bill meant directly to appeal to Tester’s constituents, which is why Reid wants a vote on it, even though it’s expected to fail in the Senate.
Currently, Tester, the Democratic senator from Montana, is falling behind in his Senate race. The RealClearPolitics average of the Senate race has Republican challenger Denny Rehberg with 45 percent of the vote to Tester’s 44 percent of the vote.
Rehberg’s lead explains Reid’s eagerness to have a vote on the Tester bill–so that the Montana Democrat can have at least one (minor) victory to bring home to his constituents before his November election.
“Harry Reid is literally holding up a bill to fund the government so that Jon Tester can use the Senate floor as a campaign studio,” says one senior Republican aide in the Senate. “He’s more concerned with saving this guy’s seat than keeping government funded, avoiding the biggest tax hike in history, or preventing across-the-board defense cuts in January. This is Washington at its worst.”
By Chuck Muth
In a recent op-ed entitled “The truth about clean energy in Nevada,” Sen. Harry Reid produced enough hot air with his green energy propaganda to power a small town in rural Nevada.
Having killed Yucca Mountain – a potential gold mine of revenue and jobs for Nevada tied to clean, reliable and affordable nuclear power – Sen. Reid now has his political phasers locked in on the clean, reliable and affordable coal-fueled power plant ironically named “Reid Gardner” located in rural Moapa.
According to Sen. Reid, Reid Gardner is “literally killing” residents who live nearby, without producing – you know – proof. Kinda like his unsubstantiated claim that Mitt Romney hasn’t paid federal taxes for the last ten years. You know, guilty until proven innocent.
Anyway, at his National Clean Energy Summit earlier this month, Sen. Reid demanded that NV Energy immediately close the Reid Gardner plant, calling it a “dirty relic.” But if the senator is going to talk about “truth,” then let’s get to some truths about Reid Gardner.[list type="arrow"] [li]
- Reid Gardner is one of the cleanest coal-fueled power plants in the country today.
- The number of visible emissions incidences has dropped from 825 in 2005 to just 7 in 2011.
- Electricity produced by Reid Gardner is 3 to 4 times less expensive than from Sen. Reid’s “clean” energy sources.
- Reid Gardner wasn’t even operating for the first five months of this year. It is generally put into service only during periods of high energy usage which, in southern Nevada, is obviously summertime.
- Reid Gardner has a peak generating capacity of over 500 megawatts. Now, I don’t know exactly what a megawatt is, but I do know that Sen. Reid’s highly-touted the Nellis Air Force Base solar plant cranks out only about 13 megawatts.
- Unlike solar, Reid Gardner is capable of producing electricity 24/7 – even on cloudy days and at night.
- Immediately closing Reid Gardner would kill about 150 jobs at a time when Nevada still leads the nation in unemployment.
And here’s a final truth for you: It’s not called “green” energy for nothing; because it costs a fortune. But Sen. Reid apparently doesn’t care how much it costs you, as long as he makes the enviro-extremists at the Sierra Club happy.
Look…maybe someday solar, wind and bio-mass energy will be reliable and inexpensive enough to make Nevada energy independent. Maybe. But the real fact is, blind pursuit of green energy with little to no consideration of market demand and cost is simply not responsible, especially in the present economic times.
Like it or not, inexpensive and reliable coal-fueled electricity allows us to enjoy an affordable standard of living not possible with unreliable, extremely expensive “green” energy alternatives. And that’s the truth.
WASHINGTON – House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions of Alabama issued the following joint statement marking the 1,200th day since Senate Democrats have last adopted a budget:
“Tomorrow marks another disappointing record for the United States Senate: Senate Majority Leader Reid and his Democrat conference will have gone an unprecedented 1,200 days without adopting a budget plan as required by law. Not only have they failed to adopt a budget, but with America under threat of financial calamity, they have refused to even present a plan for public scrutiny. Last year, Majority Leader Reid said it would be ‘foolish’ to do a budget and the legally required Budget Committee mark-up was cancelled. No plan from his conference has seen the light of day. He refuses to disclose who he plans to tax and how he plans to spend taxpayers’ money.
“This year, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad committed to bringing forth a budget plan and conducting a mark-up, and was shut down by the Majority Leader. Once again, the conference put forward no proposal and offered nothing on the Senate floor. The Senate Majority did not offer up a single plan or even cast a vote in support of a single plan. By contrast, House Republicans laid out and adopted a credible, responsible plan that avoids this looming debt crisis with spending cuts and pro-growth tax reform while preserving the safety net.
“Never before has our nation needed a budget and a long-term financial plan as badly as it needs one now. The Congressional Budget Office stated this week that the federal government is on track to run another trillion-dollar deficit this year and our debt will continue to explode with this continued lack of leadership. In addition to huge deficits, we face a $4 trillion tax increase at the end of this year and a sequester that Defense Secretary Panetta said will ‘do catastrophic damage to the military.’ Responsible and moral leadership requires the Senate to meet its legal obligation to pass a budget and to begin to address the fiscal crisis that is fast approaching our nation.”
ForAmerica Chairman, L. Brent Bozell III Statement Responding To House Vote To Repeal ObamaCare; Warns Majority Leader Reid And Senate Democrats
July 11, 2012
BOZELL: “If Mr. Reid does not allow for a fair up or down vote on the House repeal bill, he will be putting Democrat control of the U.S. Senate in jeopardy.”
“The House of Representatives today lived up to its name by listening to the American people and overwhelmingly voted to repeal ObamaCare. For over two years now, the American people have spoken consistently in opposition to ObamaCare and its massive tax increase, its crippling impact on our economy, and its trampling of each and every American’s individual rights.”
“The ball is now in Harry Reid’s court and the American people are demanding that there be a fair up or down vote in the Senate on the House repeal bill. It is time for Mr. Reid to stop thwarting the democratic process and allow for a fair up or down vote with no amendments, no tabled motions, no more Washington funny business—just a fair, straight, up or down vote. If Mr. Reid does not allow for a fair up or down vote on the House repeal bill, he will be putting Democrat control of the U.S. Senate in jeopardy.”
“ObamaCare is now THE issue in Congress and the over-riding issue in the 2012 campaign. Every Senator up for reelection will be held accountable by his/her constituents if Majority Leader Reid fails to allow a fair vote in the Senate and if they fail to vote to overturn a law that has punishing consequences on the American people, freedom, and our national economy.”
“These Senators can’t hide either. Any Senator who does not publicly fight to repeal ObamaCare, will be held responsible for this massive, crippling tax increase to pay for a law a majority of Americans don’t want. They correctly view it as a major intrusion on our individual rights and a trampling of our Constitution. ForAmerica and our 2.7 million members are organizing now and will be sure to educate constituents in key battleground states that these Senators are not representing them but simply acting as ObamaClones occupying a seat in the U.S. Senate.”