WASHINGTON, June 27, 2014 – Master at shutting down any conversation with a single watery-eyed gaze, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is making news from the Senate floor. But not the kind he wants.
He has Jon Stewart laughing at him and fellow Democrats frustrated with him.
The Koch brothers’ $400 million to Republican causes has Dandy Harry’s dander up; he says the Koch brothers’ attempt to buy our democracy is “dishonest, deceptive, false and unfair.”
But even Daily Show Jon Stewart could not let Harry get away with his lack of oratorical style, pointing out statements like “Senate Republican’s are addicted to Koch.”
While Reid has savaged the billionaire brothers, Charles and David, when asked about Nevada casino giant Sheldon Adelson, who has used his money to fund the GOP, fight unions and beat back online gambling, Reid struck a more conciliatory tone.
“Sheldon Adelson, don’t pick on him,” he told NBC’s Chuck Todd. “He’s not in this for money. He’s in this because he has certain ideological views.”
So Adelson of Nevada has ideological views, and the Koch brothers are evil usurpers of democracy. Harry, we have a problem.
Now Harry is angering his own Democratic Senate by requiring a 60-vote supermajority on any spending bill amendments instead of the simple majority.
An interesting contrast to this is that when it was time to approve Obama administration nominees, something of much heavier weight than sportsmen’s rights, the silent majority of 60 votes was more than adequate.
Not known for its great productivity, the 113th Senate — 53 Democratic members, 45 Republican members and 2 independents — has literally ground to a halt. Only now the Supreme Court has ruled that Senate recesses are not excuses for executive recess appointments.
Harry has his Reid-Reasons for a non-working Senate: fear of the fall mid-term elections. Democratic leaders are attempting to protect seats endangered by Republican challengers.
So instead of doing something wrong, the modus is to do nothing at all.
Republicans need to gain six seats to win control and Democrats must defend 21 seats to the Republicans’ 15. Which means that even bipartisan legislation, such as energy efficient manufacturing or sportsmen’s rights, are being tabled.
One possible aim in setting the supermajority rule is to deny Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., a win on protecting his home state coal industry from carbon emission regulations from existing power plants.
McConnell faces a tough re-election in Kentucky where he is being challenged by Democratic nominee, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
“Let’s just tell it like it is. If the doctors told Senator McConnell that he had a kidney stone, he’d refuse to pass it,” said Grimes.
Appropriation’s Committee chairwomen Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., has held up three spending bills in what appears to be an effort to hold up action on divisive health care laws and other possible losses to Republicans.
“I just don’t think they want their members to have to take any hard votes between now and November,” said Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb. And there’s “just no question that they’re worried we’re going to win some votes so they just shut us down.”
Reid is having trouble in the Senate with his party as Democratic senators are complaining about the lack of votes on proposed legislation. Elected in 2008, not one of Alaska Senator Begich’s proposed bills has seen the light of a vote.
Begich recently told Politico, “Does it mean increased risks? Sure. That’s what voting is about.”
Joe Manchin, West Virginia, recently told the Hill newspaper, “I’ve never been in a less productive time in my life than I am right now, in the United States Senate.”
According to Wall Street Journal online, over the last year, Senate Democrats proposed 676 amendments to legislation, but only seven of those amendments were put to vote.
Republicans proposed 812 and got votes on 11.
“Texas Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee has been allowed twice as many amendment votes (15) in the Republican House in the last year than Mr. Reid has allowed his entire Senate caucus. Not one of the nine Senate Democrats elected in 2012 has been granted a floor vote on any of their amendments.” ~ Wall Street Journal online.
Democrats are most worried, Republicans say, about Alaska’s Begich, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.
In the number two and three Senate leadership positions are Democrats Dick Durbin of Illinois and Charles Shumer of New York; in order to keep their party running things, they are behind Reid’s clamp-down on GOP amendments.