In rare public display, frustrated senators vent over floor tactics

jackalope

Former Staff
Jan 2010
51,139
17,672
Maine
This is apparently a BFD, I've read several articles trying to figure it out, and it just seems like after a filibuster has been broken (cloture achieved), Senators can't use a vote to 'suspend the rules' to table it again? I think I'm missing something.


Anyways, it seems like after a cloture vote, the minority SHOULDN'T have any more 'rights' to obstruct .... ?


Some articles:


In rare public display, frustrated senators vent over floor tactics

Washington (CNN) – The Senate pushed back a final vote on a China currency bill until next week after senators descended into an angry and emotional debate over the rights of the minority Republicans to offer amendments to it and other bills.

The dispute Thursday night revealed long simmering divisions between the two parties over the increasing use of delaying tactics – such as filibusters that need 60 votes to overcome - which Republicans use to ensure their rights but that frustrate the ability of the majority Democrats to pass legislation.

Senators crowded onto the floor and listened with rapt attention to the rare public venting of frustration built up after months of bruising battles over government funding, the debt ceiling, and stalled judicial nominations.

(snip ... )

The result of the standoff was several days of floor time on the China bill with very little actual debate.
Then, late Thursday, Democrats surprised Republicans by jamming through a rule change – something that only requires 51 votes – to prevent senators in some situations from moving to suspend the rules and offer amendments. Republicans wanted to do that on the China bill in a last-ditch effort to get votes on their amendments.

(snip ... )

Sen. Bob Corker, a reform minded Republican from Tennessee, triggered the impassioned debate when he openly challenged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to explain why the Senate appeared so dysfunctional.

"I think members on both sides of the aisle feel like this institution has degraded into a place that is no longer a place where any deliberation at all," he declared.

(snip ... )


In the end, Senators agreed to take a cooling off period over the extended Columbus Day weekend and vote on the China bill and the president's jobs bill when they return next week.

Reid announced he hoped soon to convene a private caucus of all senators where they could further discuss and work out their differences.


"It was a pouring out of feelings from both sides," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia, a longtime member of the Senate. "Sometimes you have to do stuff like this - have to have a catharsis of some sort. Just let it rip. The beauty of it was it was all on the Senate floor and carried all over the country. So people saw us at our worst and I saw us at our potential best."

In rare public display, frustrated senators vent over floor tactics – CNN Political Ticker - CNN.com Blogs

Reid in Senate Showdown with Republicans

In a shocking development this evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) "triggered a rarely used procedural option informally called the "nuclear option" to change the Senate rules," The Hill reports.

"The Democratic leader had become fed up with Republican demands for votes on motions to suspend the rules after the Senate had voted to end a filibuster."

Roll Call reports a "visibly upset" Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) "said Reid was fundamentally turning the Senate into the House and was setting the precedent that the minority wouldn't have a voice after 60 votes are invoked."

However, David Waldman clarifies that what happened in the Senate "bears some strong similarities to what observers have come to think of as the 'nuclear option,' but there have been no changes to the rules that would really eliminate or in any way seriously constrain the use of the filibuster."

Reid in Senate Showdown with Republicans


REID PULLS THE PLUG ON MCCONNELL

We'll have a fuller explanation of this shortly. But something kind of big just happened in the Senate. Reid and McConnell have been jousting all week as Reid tries to find a way to bring some form of President Obama's jobs bill to the floor and McConnell struggles to prevent that and embarrass the Dems. They were going back and forth tonight on arcane procedure. McConnell appeared to find a way to outwit Reid with another 60 vote filibuster when Reid essentially said enough and pulled the plug on McConnell's attempt to pull yet another filibuster. This provoked a stammering "but, but, but ... " from the Republican side of the aisle. And that's where we are.

Here is Brian Beutler's report on what happened tonight -- and what it could portend.

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2011/10/reid_pulls_the_plug_on_mcconnell.php?ref=fpblg— Josh Marshall



Nuclear Option?! What Really Happened On The Senate Floor, And Why It Matters
Brian Beutler | October 6, 2011, 9:31PM

(snip ... )

But this wasn't just about checkmating McConnell. As he said in a statement late Thursday, "The Senate must have the ability to move forward on legislation that has broad bipartisan support. A small minority of senators cannot be allowed to bring bipartisan legislation, like a bill to end China's job-killing, underhanded currency manipulation, to a grinding halt when 14 million Americans are out of work."

To wit, after legislation has overcome a filibuster, only a very narrow set of germane amendments can come up for votes -- unless the rules are suspended. Since Obama's jobs bill is not germane to Chinese currency legislation, it was out of order, and suspending the rules was McConnell's only way to force the vote. This thin reed of minority power has been ripped from its root, because Reid's play Thursday night.


Still, what Reid did operates on the same principle as the "nuclear option." It is tactically the same maneuver Republicans threatened to pull in 2005 when they pushed to end judicial filibusters. But the issue at stake is much, much narrower -- it ends a ploy that hasn't been pulled successfully in decades, except to delay proceedings on the Senate floor and score political points.


And this is where timing becomes important. Reid has wiped out an extremely small minority right (technically, the right to force a vote on a motion to suspend the rules after cloture has been invoked on a bill to consider a non-germane amendment). But he's done so at the nadir of Democratic power with Republicans strongly positioned to assume the majority in 2012. Republicans are furious about it. And now that Reid's done something that hasn't been done in at least 30 years -- and may be unprecedented -- a narrow GOP majority in 2013 could use it as cover to affect much broader changes to the Senate rules. Including, if they want, eliminating the filibuster.


If Republicans win the Senate in 2012, we all may be revisiting this odd procedural maneuver, but with much, much more at stake.


Nuclear Option?! What Really Happened On The Senate Floor, And Why It Matters | TPMDC
 
  • Like
Reactions: Hollywood

jackalope

Former Staff
Jan 2010
51,139
17,672
Maine
Another article:


Reid rewrites Senate rules with shocking move

(snip ... )

Tonight, McConnell made what's called a "motion to suspend the rules," to allow a vote on the amendments. Such motions are almost always defeated, because they require a two-thirds majority to pass. But they're another way for the minority party to force uncomfortable votes. Even though the minority party doesn't get a direct vote on the amendment, how somebody votes on the motion becomes a sort of proxy for such a vote. In this case, for instance, if Democrats had voted down a motion for a vote on Obama's jobs bill, it would have put them in an awkward spot.

Though it's been the standing practice of the Senate to allow such motions by the minority, tonight Reid broke with precedent and ruled McConnell's motion out of order, and was ultimately backed up by Democrats.

So, the end result is that by a simple majority vote, Reid was able to effectively rewrite Senate rules making it even harder than it already is for the minority party to force votes on any amendments. Should Republicans retake the Senate next year, it's something that could come back to haunt Democrats in a major way.

And just to clear up some confusion, what happened tonight was different than the so-called "nuclear option" to end filibusters. While triggering the "nuclear option" requires a Majority Leader to use the same sort of strategic maneuvers as Reid just did, tonight's move had to do with the amendment process, not filibusters.

Reid rewrites Senate rules with shocking move | Campaign 2012
 

Jets

Moderator
Feb 2011
23,726
14,562
New York
Whats unfortunate here is that party is in the minority always creates these problems. I understand the senate was designed to be deliberative, but not borderline obstructionist. If the GOP takes the senate we will revisit this conversation from the other side. imo
 
  • Like
Reactions: Babba

Babba

Former Staff
Jul 2007
78,171
70,103
So. Md.
Well, something had to be done about the Senate. Yeah, it could come back to haunt the Dems if the Repubs regain the majority, but at least some things can get done now.
 

jackalope

Former Staff
Jan 2010
51,139
17,672
Maine
The Senate is a train wreck. I think they missed a crucial opportunity, not re-writing the rules at the start of the new session.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tarheeler