Senate Dems want their pork Posted by: mcq
on Friday, January 12, 2007
As a prelude, the House Democrats have denied Republicans a voice in their 100 hour agenda, and have passed "tough" ethics reform including earmark reform (I put "tough" in quotes because it is a relative term and especially when you understand what happened in the Senate).
Now it is the Senate's turn. In the Senate, the rules won't allow one party to deny the other party debate or the ability to offer amendments. So not at all satisfied with the Democratic Senate version of the bill (Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007 (S. 1)) which had very weak earmark reform rules, Republican Senator Jim DeMint, a strong advocate of earmark reform, introduced an amendment (amendment 11) which essentially offered the Pelosi reforms from the House version of the bill.
The Senate Dems, apparently, went bats. Club for Growth takes it from there:
It was a very clever strategy. Dick Durbin, the Majority Whip, threw a fit on the Senate floor and offered a motion to table it (kill it).
Let's be clear about the rich irony here. Senate Leadership tried to kill a bill that House Leadership supported and passed. Harry Reid and Dick Durbin are basically saying that they want their pork no matter what, even if it embarrasses their own party.
So when the motion to kill the bill came to a vote, Durbin and the Democrats lost! [ed. note: At this point, the Senate erupted. The chair, who I think was Maria Cantwell, banged the gavel repeatedly to bring the room to order. The Democrats were frantically performing triage in an attempt to recover.]
It should be noted that a majority should never offer a motion to table if they aren’t sure they can win. It was very embarrassing. Especially since Durbin was trying to kill a proposal that his Leadership colleagues in the House offered!
Anyways, after the motion failed, DeMint asked for a voice vote, which is common. It's basically used to save time since de facto support of the bill was decided when the motion failed. However, Big Ted Kennedy objected, which is all that it needed to skip a voice vote.
Heh ... very funny and very revealing.
Two updates are interesting as well:
UPDATE (4:29pm): It should be noted that Senate Democratic freshmen, Jim Webb and Jon Tester, voted with Republicans to not kill the proposal. Will Reid successfully whip them into changing their vote?
A little independence exhibited immediately could turn into a lot of independence down the road. Look for some real arm twisting by Reid and Durbin on this.
And I also found this update interesting:
UPDATE (4:34pm): Harry Reid is talking right now. He just said that DeMint's proposal is disrupting the overall bill, which took a lot of time to put together. He just said that the weak earmark reform rules "were carefully vetted with weeks of work from our staff" and that it's "preferrable" to DeMint's proposal.
Yes, we must reward the staff's hard work by passing the bad legislation they've crafted. Amazing. And as is obvious, It wasn't "carefully vetted" by DeMint (or Webb and Tester).
This is an interesting vote in many ways. It's been put off now until today. You can follow it here.
And the degree to which conservative Dems cross the aisle in the Senate shows the degree to which you did in fact get just what you want in the 2006 polling*—the houses of Congress divided from each other.