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Democrats’ First Act of Obstruction

Democrats’ First Act of Obstruction

Now is the winter of our procedural discontent

Yesterday, Senate Republicans attempted a procedural fast-track on the bipartisan Keystone XL jobs and infrastructure bill. The goal, according to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), was to immediately begin processing amendments to the controversial bill with the end goal of getting it to the President as soon as possible.

McConnell asked for unanimous consent to proceed with consideration of the bill, noting that amendments would be accepted from both sides of the aisle. The problem? Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) objected.

Instead of being able to move forward immediately, Leader McConnell was forced to file cloture on the motion to proceed with the bill; this means that unless Senator Whitehouse drops his objection, the next vote on the bill will have to wait until 5:30 on Monday.

What a petty start to the 114th Congress. In prepared remarks from earlier this week, Harry Reid insisted that, “[t]he mistakes of the past, the gratuitous obstruction and wanton filibustering will not be a hallmark of the Democratic minority in the 114th Congress.” (Apparently, we’re meant to have forgotten the hundreds of bills and amendments that suffered and died in the hands of then-Majority Leader Reid.)

This move by Whitehouse was everything Reid claims to have abandoned as part of his floor strategy; but while it may have been petty, it may not make much of a difference when the bill finally comes up for a vote.

Reid isn’t alone in his desire to put politics before policy, but several Democrats have abandoned their caucus to throw their support behind Keystone:

The bill now has 54 Republican and six Democratic co-sponsors: Sens. Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Mark Warner (Va.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.).

They also say three other Democrats, Sens. Bob Casey Jr. (Pa.), Tom Carper (Del.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.), who voted to approve the Canada-to-Texas pipeline in November, are likely to back it.

Those 63 votes would be more than enough to send a bill to Obama. But it’s not enough support to override a veto.

A few Democrats joined Republicans in expressing disappointment with the White House.

“I am disappointed that the president will not allow this Congress to turn over a new leaf and engage in the legislative process to improve an important piece of legislation,” Manchin said.

Manchin isn’t the only one who spoke up publicly. Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) also expressed optimism about a McConnell-run Senate, saying “I welcome what Senator McConnell, our new majority leader, has envisioned as a more active floor in the Senate where we do not run into lengthy and repeated filibusters but bring amendments to the floor, debate them, vote on them, and ultimately pass legislation. That is the procedure of the Senate which historically had been honored but fell, sadly, into disrepair over the last several years.”

When asked about the delay, McConnell made sure to remind everyone what the end game is—to make sure the bill lands on Obama’s desk.

“It’s unfortunate. Many Senators on both sides had hoped to use tomorrow to work on this bill. So did I,” said McConnell. “But we’ll work through this. Because we’re determined to get bipartisan jobs legislation on the president’s desk as soon as we can.”

Whether or not the President will veto the bill, however, remains to be seen.


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The Dems have been trying to run out the clock on Keystone for years. With the current price of oil and a certain veto from POTUS, I think they will succeed. The Canadians will send the oil to their west coast and onto Asia. And then Americans will not have to sully their hands with honest labor during the transaction.

Who were the frogs that thought the scorpion could change it’s nature?

I would guess the same ones who are oh so willing to reach across the aisle.

Why are they surprised when they get stung?

It’s like they’re living in a bubble.

quiksilverz24 | January 9, 2015 at 9:29 am

Can there be an amendment that includes military funding? More GI bill funding? Hell, include funding for this new free community college initiative. Or maybe an increase in food stamp dollars?

I think you see where I’m going with this. Let Barry veto the bill, and bring out the Internet memes…

“I welcome what Senator McConnell, our new majority leader, has envisioned …” — Little Dick Durbin (D-IL)

Translation: I welcome our new quisling toothless leaders.

What a lot of people do not realize is that all of the moderate Demorat Senators were defeated in the last election except Manchin and a couple of others. What that means is that only really left wingers are in the Senate now and will do all they can to block any legislation put forward by McConnell. If McConnell is stupid enough to go back to the old rules that dirty harry eliminated, then he deserves what he gets, This group of Dems will do anything to protect obama from having to make decisions that make him look like the extreme leftist he is.

    Henry Hawkins in reply to inspectorudy. | January 9, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    “This group of Dems will do anything to protect obama from having to make decisions that make him look like the extreme leftist he is.”

    True enough – before the Dems lost both gavels. Allegiance to and support of Obama cost many Dems their respective House/Senate seats. This dwindled the Protect Obama team. Plus, he’s deep into lame duck territory, which also diminishes the Protect Obama dynamic.

    Even the staunchest ‘team first’ ideologues in office blanche at the thought of sacrificing their own seat for the team. Obama is acidic enough where that’s a concern for any Senate Dem up for reelection in 2016. There will remain Protect Obama At All Costs Dems in the Senate, but their numbers – and willingness to do it – are well down.

    Another contributor is that without a Senate Majority Leader to protect him, Obama will be forced to veto popular bills, and no Dem in the Senate can protect him from that fallout (that’s the media’s job).

28 House dems crossed the isle today and voted for Keystone. I think that’s a good sign. It will be interesting to see if any of these Senate dems who care about their reelection in 2016.

Michael Bennet (Colorado)
Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut)
Barbara Boxer (California) retiring in 2016
Patrick Leahy (Vermont)
Barbara Mikulski (Maryland)
Patty Murray (Washington)
Harry Reid (Nevada)
Brian Schatz (Hawaii)
Charles Schumer (New York)
Ron Wyden (Oregon)