• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Reid Blocks Vote on Obama's Jobs Plan

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) blocked a vote on President Barack Obama’s American Jobs Act tonight.

    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had pledged to offer an unchanged version of the President’s American Jobs Act as an amendment to the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Bill (S. 1619). Reid stopped a vote on the President’s so called jobs bill by filling the amendment tree.  Last year I wrote about Reid’s obstructionism and argued that Reid’s strong arm tactics by constantly filling the amendment tree as a means to block out all amendments were against the spirit and letter of the Senate’s rules.

    Reid will fill up all of the possible amendments to the bill with technical corrections as a means to prevent Senators from offering substantive amendments. This will block out amendments from the other 99 Senators. A Senator will then have to get the consent of Reid to offer an amendment. This is not a good faith application of the Senate’s rules.

    This tactic is when the Majority Leader uses the tradition of being recognized first to offer amendment after amendment to block out all other amendments.  It is a way to get a bill passed unchanged and a means to stop Senators from offering amendments.

    Reid had filled the tree then he filed cloture on the bill to end debate.

    After Reid blocked consideration of the McConnell amendment, Senator McConnell filed something called a motion to suspend the rules.

    Some Republicans have used the tactic of filing motions to suspend the rules in order to get a vote on amendments after debate is complete.  Seven amendments were pending as motions to suspend the rules.  Motions to suspend the rules can only be done after a filibuster and after the Senate invokes a motion to shut off debate.

    Reid raised a point of order against motions to suspend the rules after cloture is invoked.  He argued that the pending amendments, including the McConnell Amendment, amounted to a second filibuster and were dilatory.  A dilatory action is a delaying action.  There are existing precedents in the long history of the Senate where the Senate has disallowed stalling tactics what were deemed “dillatory.”

    Here is what Reid said on the Senate floor:

    Now since the Senate amended rule 22 in 1979, cloture has been a process to bring the Senate consideration to a close. The fundamental nature of cloture is to make consideration of the pending measure finite. The terms of rule 22 provide that the question is this: and I quote, “it is the sense of the Senate that the debate shall be brought to a close.”  Indeed, late this morning the Republican Leader stated, and I also quote what my friend, the Republican Leader, said. “if 60 senators are in favor bringing a matter to a conclusion, it will be brought it a conclusion.” That’s just what happened a few minutes ago.” So I repeat, that’s what the Republican Leader said. Now, notwithstanding the clear nature of the cloture rule to provide for finite consideration of a measure, a practice has begun in this Congress that has undermined the cloture rule. The practice has arisen with senators filing multiple motions to suspend the rules for the consideration of further amendments.

    Reid concluded that he was going to move to obliterate the precedent.

    Unless the Senate votes to change its precedents today, we will be faced with a potentially serious series of motions to suspend the rules and that is a result that a functioning democracy cannot tolerate.

    Reid then called up motion to suspend the rules to consider an amendment by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and made a point of order that the amendment was dilatory.  It seems illogical to call up and offer an amendment, then to argue that the amendment is dilatory.

    Senator McConnell responded that Reid had agreed earlier to allow votes on these amendments, yet he backed away from the agreement.

    So what is about to happen is that the Majority is trying to set a new precedent on how the Senate operates. For the record, my preference would have been to consider amendments on both sides under a regular process, which we could have done earlier this week. Instead, we have been locked out and in a few moments, the rules of the Senate will be effectively changed to lock out the Minority party even more.

    Not only did Reid offer the motion to suspend for Senator Coburn, he had agreed earlier to allow a vote on the amendment.  It does not follow that the Coburn, nor the McConnell motion to suspend the rules was a stalling tactic.  The parliamentarian advised the Chair of the Senate that the amendments were not dilatory.  Reid appealed the ruling of the chair and the Senate voted 48-51 to support the Chair.

    Alex Bolton at The Hill reports:

    The maneuver is arcane but momentous. If a simple majority of the Senate votes with Reid and strikes down the ruling, the chamber’s precedent will be changed through the unilateral action of one party. Republicans had considered using this maneuver, dubbed the “nuclear option,” in 2005 to change Senate rules to prohibit the filibuster of judicial nominees. Democrats decried the plan and the crisis was resolved by a bipartisan agreement forged by 14 rank-and-file senators known as the Gang of 14.

    This effort by Democrats further restricts the rights of Republicans to offer amendments to bills.  If Republicans take control of the Senate in the next Congress, then Democrats will have less opportunity to offer amendments to bills.  This new precedent will restrict the rights of the minority and individual members of both parties.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    18 Responses to Reid Blocks Vote on Obama's Jobs Plan

    1. Nate Lynch says:

      More wrangling rather than cooperation. Equivalent to fiddling while the common man is protesting in the street. Oh yeah – they ARE protesting in the street. This administration & congress are doomed to fail – by their own choices.

      • Donla says:

        It does, in case you haven't considered the possibility, it takes but one side to prevent cooperation (the left's new buzzword to replace their silly bipartisanship lie). Changing historic bipartisan party rules in midstream by rejecting a vote on the very bill that party's president has been screaming for the congress to pass, might give you a clue as to which one side is doing the dirty stuff. Both aren't!

        Creating moral equivalency when one side is playing games is an old trick that you should realize we are wise to. You might browse Saul Alinsky's Rules For Radicals one more time to learn a new one. Certainly the left is wearing out the "any means to an end" advice from the man who dedicated the book to Lucifer.

    2. Chris says:

      I can't say that I understand the operation of the these Congressional meetings to totally follow what's happening here, but essentially, it allows someone to take an otherwise useless bill, and fill it up with garbage they know the other side doesn't want, and then prevent the other side from mounting any kind of credible debate or stall tactic? Is that about right?

      If so, it's an incredibly risky move for the Democrats given that it could be turned against them later (depending on whether or not the Republicans will have the cajones to use it in reverse later). If anything, I think it shows that we are entering into another frantic push by the Democrats to try and forward a number of new and/or thus far impotent policies. This idea is further supported by the momentum this week in forming healthcare plans for ObamaCare.

      Scary times. I hope the Republican leadership has learned that the failed "let's cross aisles and work together" policies of George Bush don't work and that they are going to have to play tough and dirty if they want to even hold their ground.

    3. toledofan says:

      Unbelieveable and actully quite pathetic, but again, it clearly shows the Democrats care more about themselves than the country. Harry Reid is a signifigant part of the problem in the Senate and I just hope the Republicans don't have short memories..

    4. Gary Brubaker says:

      The only way to interpret 'cooperation' is to go with the Democrat line …any other is considered a blocking tactic, not cooperation. Only they, the Dumbocrats, have ALL the answers and the real problem is that the Republicans do not respond to the BS by Reid and company. It is time to show America that the real road-block is Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats…

    5. Jason says:

      When it comes to the political system it seems as though liberals think in terms of tactics, whereas conservatives think in terms of morality.

      • Mark says:

        In my limited opinion, there is enough tactical maneuvering on both sides of the aisle to prevent any conclusion regarding which Party is the more moral.

    6. Peter howe says:

      2012 and better 2014; cannot wait!

    7. Pete Houston says:

      Get ready for more of those"You will have to wait until we pass the law to know what is in it" episodes. I hope that this turns on the dems when the Repubs take over next year and overturn obummercare.

    8. Willy Rho says:

      Sounds like most of them, the Majority Party, needs to be tried for treason and hung. Maybe that will happen someday.

    9. Valentino Procida says:

      What little I know of the senate is that it's a body of 60 members, How does Reid pass to block the other senators to vote on what he's doing? It only goes to show that the Democrates are at it again. What are they up to now, and who is it in favor for? What happen to the United States of America?????

    10. walter says:

      Reid stop and won"t have a vote on the bill. Some on need to tell the president It Reid and not the other party that blocking the bill at this time. Obama is still calling name and blaming the other party . He just can not get his stuff right. He just continue lieing to all of us even tho he know his message is false. i am so ashame of him . It make me want to change party.

      • Mark says:

        The polarization of our country is now higher than I can remember. We all need to begin to responsibly use our precious vote by voting for who will prove to progress this countries future, not just voting along Party lines. We can be so much better than that.

    11. H Snyder says:

      Every since the "sit-ins" and the 1968 Chicago riots and the resulting trials of the "Chicago Seven," and the expert defense lawyer Kunstler, it has been my observation that smart lawyers will be involved with political issues. It actually dates back to the trials of Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs, when some of the country's cleverest lawyers defended those people accused of very serious crimes. Democrats are using these strategies to support big-union policies, defending persons accused of terrorist attacks on the U.S., supporters of Shari'a Law in the U.S., etc. Also, The many requests for FOIA information which are zealously stonewalled by the agencies which have received the requests. (Note the stonewalling of the investigation of the "Fast and Furious" scheme and scandal.)

    12. Mark says:

      Once again we have a Congressional leader who refuses to take responsibility for his actions by letting people of his Party say that the Republicans are at the heart of the impass problem. One would think that a future Senate would ammend the rule which Reid is abusing. I however doubt it, because it would then not be available for future abuse by the party in charge. Vote for anyone who is not the incumbant or nothing will change.

    13. Darl Reynolds says:

      The way to change Washington is through term limits. I have no idea how to fire an employee who is in complete control of his own working conditions and pay rate. However, there must be a way, for this Republic cannot endure with the present re election addiction of our Legislators at the present time. Why do we need the employees to control eht employment? We do not, and the answer is at the ballot box by citizens who refuse to listen to the very very espensive eledction talk of incumbents. The truth is that washington is exactly what Harry Truman identified when he esplained what a Waswhingtn lie really was. THEY KNOW!!

    14. Stirling says:

      It's clear that everything being done in the senate by Reid is political in nature. Any "limit" clearly has it's intentions to further erode the constitution and freedoms in favor of majority rules. I'm sure it's more of a calculation that Obama and his supporters will win re-election and take back the GOP gains of 2010. Just a theory here, but if an event was caused prior to the 2012 elections that stoped the elections from happening would this "Limit" be in effect going forward? To my knolegde one democrat has floated the ballon to pospone elections for a couple of years due to the economy.

    15. Ginny Rebyak says:

      Double-standard as usual. People in Nevada must be brain dead for re-electing Reid. Hopefully a Republican majority will be electedto the Senate next year, not because they are necessarily better overall but because those who have listened to the Tea Party's and adhere to the principles and law of the Constitution were elected and re-elected. We need these people from the Democrats but we need to vote out the Harry Reid's and Nancy Pelosi's from Congress and Obama before we can elect some true Constitutional Conservative Democrats to office if there are any left!

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×