procedure

Harry Reid goes “nuclear” on the filibuster

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and most members of the Democratic conference voted today to eliminate the 60-vote threshold for executive nominations, excluding Supreme Court appointments, after Republicans blocked three appointments to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Executive nominees now need only 51 votes to win confirmation from the Senate. The change was approved by the Senate by a vote of 52 to 48. Three Democrats — Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Mark Pryor (D-AR) — joined every Senate Republican to vote against the rule change.

Reid complained that Republicans had forced him to call for the change in Senate rules because of, what he called, “unprecedented obstruction” and claimed that the it’s “something both sides should be willing to live with to make Washington work again.”

“The American people are fed up with this kind of obstruction and gridlock. The American people – Democrats, Republicans and Independents – are fed up with this kind of obstruction and gridlock,” said Reid from the Senate floor. “The American people want Washington to work for American families once again.”

The rule change is an attempt to change the narrative. President Obama and Democrats have talked up “gridlock” in government to get attention off of the problems with Obamacare. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made that point to colleagues this morning.

Top 10 Longest Senate Filibusters

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) spoke for 21 hours and 19 minutes between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning because Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) wouldn’t raise the vote threshold to amend the Continuing Resolution (CR) from a simply majority (51 votes) to 60 votes, giving Senate Democrats the ability to strike language defunding ObamaCare without Republican support.

The filibuster, which has existed for more than 200 years, has long-been used as a tool to slowdown or prevent passage of legislation with which members disagree.

Below is a brief look at the top 10 filibusters in Senate history. While Cruz’s control of the floor wasn’t technically a filibuster in the true sense, as he couldn’t stop the already scheduled cloture vote on the motion to proceed, it would rank fifth on the list.

10. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) — 8 hours, 39 minutes (2003)

Cruz, Lee discuss defunding ObamaCare on Sunday shows

Ted Cruz on Fox News Sunday

There will be a showdown in the Senate this week on the Continuing Resolution (CR) and ObamaCare funding, that much was made clear by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) yesterday during his appearance on Fox News Sunday.

Last week, Cruz hinted that he would filibuster any CR that didn’t defund ObamaCare. But Cruz told Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday, that he may attempt to block the motion to proceed on the House version of the CR if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) plans to use a simple majority to strip out language that would defund ObamaCare.

“The first order of business is going to be to ask Harry Reid if he will agree to allow amendments to be subject to a 60-vote threshold — and that’s typical in the Senate; we have a lot of amendments that are subject to 60-vote thresholds,” Cruz told Wallace.

“Now, in all likelihood he will say no because he wants to use brute political power to force Obamacare funding through with just Democrats, exactly the same way he passed the bill three years ago,” said Cruz. “Now, if he does that, then Senate Republicans have the tool that we always use when the majority leader is abusing his power, which is we can deny cloture. We can filibuster and say we will not allow you to add the funding back for Obamacare with just 51 votes.”

Senate likely to strip language to defund ObamaCare

A procedural strategy being looked at by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) would strike the language to defund ObamaCare out of the Continuing Resolution (CR), according to a report from The Hill:

Reid’s first move would be to schedule a vote to end debate on proceeding to the House continuing resolution. This would require 60 votes. Republican senators would vote to proceed to the bill because it would including the language to defund ObamaCare.

Then he would fill the amendment tree, defining what amendments could be considered in relation to the House legislation.

Reid would be sure that one of the pending amendments is a so-called “amendment to strike,” which would allow him schedule a future vote on stripping the language defunding ObamaCare and prioritizing debt payments.

Then Reid would schedule a vote to end debate on the House continuing resolution and proceed to final passage. This vote also requires 60 votes.
[…]
After this second cloture vote has passed, the pending amendments can be approved with a simple majority vote. At this point, Reid could strike the language defunding ObamaCare and prioritizing debt payments without having to rely on Republican votes. He could strike the language with Democratic votes alone.

Senate Democrats May Again Try to Curtail the Filibuster

Here we go again. After making a deal with Republicans over the filibuster at the beginning of the current session, some Senate Democrats are threatening once more to eliminate the procedural tactic because they can’t get the votes necessary to push through President Barack Obama’s nominees to regulatory bodies:

Senate Democrats frustrated with the GOP’s blocking of a string of President Obama’s nominees are seriously weighing a controversial tactic known as the “nuclear option.”

The option — which would involve Democrats changing Senate rules through a majority vote to prevent the GOP from using the 60-vote filibuster to block nominations — was raised during a private meeting Wednesday involving about 25 Democratic senators and a group of labor leaders.
[…]
The labor groups expressed frustration over future nominees to the National Labor Relations Board, as well as Obama’s nomination of Thomas Perez as secretary of Labor.

Democrats’ anger also boiled over last week when Republicans stalled Gina McCarthy, the president’s choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, by boycotting a meeting of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

Both of these regulatory bodies have come under fire over the last couple of years. President Obama made appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) early last year, but because the Senate wasn’t technically in recess, those appointments were found to be unconstitutional.

Illinois Rant Shows Problem With Modern American Democracy

Rants are nothing new, and they’re always popular. Who doesn’t love to watch a video of somebody totally losing it? Particularly if the person in question is a legislator.

The last time, it was Anthony Weiner, well before he decided to show his, erm, weiner, on Twitter. That was actually pretty funny, I admit, but I think what Mike Bost, Illinois State Representative, had to say was far, far better:

ObamaCare repeal vote set for Wednesday

After putting off the vote for a week in the wake of the tragic shooting in Tucson, Republicans are set to take up repeal of ObamaCare on Wednesday:

The House of Representatives will resume action next week on repealing President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare overhaul, a House Republican spokesman said on Thursday.
[…]
“As the White House noted, it is important for Congress to get back to work, and to that end we will resume thoughtful consideration of the health care bill next week,” said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

“Americans have legitimate concerns about the cost of the new healthcare law and its effect on the ability to grow jobs in our country,” he added.

The vote is set for Wednesday, said another Republican aide who asked not to be identified.

The repeal vote would fulfill a campaign promise of Republicans who won control of the House in November elections. But the measure will likely die in the Senate, where Democrats remain in control.

A procedural vote on Friday, January 7th has laid the groundwork for passage. However, only four Democrats crossed the aisle in the 236-181 vote. It’s a symbolic vote since they don’t have the numbers to override a veto even if Senate Democrats, who hold the majority in that chamber, weren’t going to block it.

House Republicans realize this, which is why they are preparing legislation to go at ObamaCare starting with the onerous 1099 provision - problematic language that requires businesses to report all transactions over $600:

Indiana Republican: “This is why the American people have thrown you out of power”

Yesterday on the floor of the House, Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) got upset, and rightfully so, when Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA), who was presiding over the House at the time, refused to recognize him to speak on the floor on what he saw as an abuse of the legislative process.

Buyer points out that no one was on the floor to object to him speaking, but Richardson was using her own discretion to keep him from speaking. He told Richardson, “This is why the American people have thrown you out of power.”

Here is video of the exchange:


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