“…If the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, two years later, cannot answer that question, it makes abundantly clear that the response of the administration, and sadly the response of Senate Democrats, has been partisan stonewalling, rather than trying to get to the truth.”
— Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Cruz duked it out with Menendez on the Senate floor on Monday over Cruz’s latest push for a joint select committee to investigate the scandal, prompting Menendez’s admission. Cruz has been arguing for a joint select committee—which would be bipartisan and encompass members of both the House and the Senate—for months…(read more)Breitbart.com
Leon Panetta, who served as defense secretary at the time of the attacks, and former CIA director Mike Morell announced their support at an event for Panetta’s institute. Per Politico:
“A lot of people have looked at this, but the polls show that the American people still have questions. I want to make sure that all of those questions are cleared up. There are still some questions about the role of the agency. And there are still questions about my own personal role and I want to clear that up,” Morell said during a panel discussion at the Panetta Institute in Monterey, Calif. “It might be surprising for you to hear me say this, but I am a supporter of the creation of this committee because I want all the facts to come together in one place and be presented as one — by one entity as one thing, so the American people can see all of this.”
“I am hopeful that at least getting the facts on the table will be helpful…” (read more)
“The Editors would like to extend our condolences to Senator Harry Reid and his family as they go through this difficult time. While we can only guess at the exact nature of the psychiatric or neurological trauma the Senate majority leader has suffered, we assume that it is severe, judging by his symptoms, the most prominent of which is his new habit of taking to the Senate floor to deliver speeches that sound like they ought to be coming from a man wearing a bathrobe in front of a liquor store in Cleveland…”
Senator Harry Reid has found something else to blame on the Koch brothers: climate change. Taking to the Senate floor, the majority leader called the philanthropic businessmen “one of the main causes” of the phenomenon.
“While the Koch brothers admit to not being experts on the matter, these billionaire oil tycoons are certainly experts at contributing to climate change — that’s what they do very well. They are one of the main causes of this — not a cause, one of the main causes.”
Reid went on to claim the brothers were the “biggest air and water polluters period” and were “waging a war against anything that protects the environment.” “I know it sounds absurd, but it’s true,” he said…(read more)
For RealClearPolitics,Adam O’Neal writes: Last month, as the Senate was busy negotiating the final details of its Ukraine aid package, Majority Leader Harry Reid became temporarily distracted with a campaign finance issue. Since winning re-election in 2010, Reid’s campaign had purchased gifts for supporters and donors from vendors like Bed Bath & Beyond, Amazon, Nordstrom, and the Senate gift shop, among others. But one round of spending was directed to a less recognizable firm: Ryan Elisabeth, a jewelry line.
In 2012 and 2013, the campaign spent $31,267 purchasing gifts from the company, which is owned by Reid’s granddaughter, Ryan Elisabeth Reid. All told, she took in nearly seven times more cash than all vendors of donor gifts combined during that period of time.
Veteran Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston first reported the news after receiving a tip about the expenditures. (Ryan Elisabeth’s last name did not appear on the FEC reports, and the senator’s office initially failed to confirm her identity.) While Sen. Reid does not appear to have broken the law, he understood that the purchases created a perception of favoritism. Lamenting the unwanted attention heaped on his granddaughter, he decided after the news broke that “it would be best to pay for her work out of my own pocket.”
This was not the first time that Reid had mixed family and politics — or potentially run afoul of ethics rules.
Harry Reid has spent more than 40 years in government, starting as a small city’s attorney and eventually becoming the most powerful senator in the country. He has raised tens of millions of dollars in political contributions, established himself as an institution in Nevada politics along the way, and made himself a very wealthy man. His humble roots — from growing up in a remote desert town to working six days a week as a Capitol police officer while in law school — are legend in Washington and Nevada. Reid exhibits the toughness of a once destitute boy who completely transformed his life through determination, hard work — and good luck. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday, Governor Jan Brewer (R) signed House Bill 2103 into law. Introduced by state Representative Kelly Townsend (R-16), HB 2103 would allow an individual of at least nineteen years of age to obtain a concealed weapon permit if the person is currently in military service or has been honorably discharged. This legislation is a good way to thank our military for their service and will benefit law-abiding gun owners in Arizona. HB 2103 passed in the state Senate by a 20 to 10 vote on Wednesday and in the House by a 39 to 18 vote on March 10.
Also yesterday, House Bill 2535 was reported in the Senate by the Committee of the Whole as “Do Pass.” Introduced by state Representative John Kavanagh (R-23), HB 2535 requires that certification by a chief law enforcement officer (CLEO), when a signoff is required for the transfer of a firearm or other item regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA), be provided within sixty days as long as the applicant is not prohibited by law from receiving the firearm or other item. HB 2535 would prevent an arbitrary personal bias from determining Arizona firearm policy and ensure that qualified, law-abiding Arizonans would not be denied their ability to legally possess NFA items. The reforms in HB 2535 would benefit law-abiding Arizona Second Amendment supporters by ensuring that the process to obtain NFA items already legal in Arizona remains consistent, fact-based and objective. Additionally, HB 2535 would provide an individual who has been denied certification by a CLEO with a written explanation for the denial. HB 2535 now goes to the Senate floor where it will be considered as early as next week.
Senator Reid on Cattle Battle: “It’s Not Over.”Harry, It’s Over
RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) — Senate majority leader Harry Reid hasn’t been very vocal about the cattle battle showdown in recent days, but says “it’s not over.”
Harry? we talked about this. It’s over.
Reid tells News4’s Samantha Boatman his take on the so-called cattle battle in southern Las Vegas. “Well, it’s not over.
Well, yeah it is, Reid. It’s over.
“We can’t have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it’s not over,” Reid said.
Harry, you represent a Federal government that violates the law every day, and walks away from it. You’re in the worst possible position to make statements like that anywhere near a live microphone. Sit down, shut up.
No longer able to withstand the increasing pressure from punditfromanotherplanet, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius resigns in disgrace, as Democrats struggle to hold Senate in upcoming mid-term elections
NYTimes.com reports: WASHINGTON — Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, is resigning, ending a stormy five-year tenure marred by the disastrous rollout of President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act.
The system is down at the moment. We are experiencing technical difficulties and hope to have them resolved soon.”
— Kathleen Sebelius, struggling to defend the website and the health care law
“If I could take something along with me, it would be “all the animosity. If that could just leave with me, and we could get to a new chapter, that would be terrific.”
— Kathleen Sebelius
The departure comes as the Obama administration tries to move beyond its early stumbles in carrying out the law, persuade a still-skeptical public of its lasting benefits, and help Democratic incumbents, who face blistering attack ads after supporting the legislation, survive the midterm elections this fall.
Officials said Ms. Sebelius, 65, made the decision to resign and was not forced out. But the frustration at the White House over her performance had become increasingly clear, as administration aides worried that the crippling problems at HealthCare.gov, the website set up to enroll Americans in insurance exchanges, would result in lasting damage to the president’s legacy. Read the rest of this entry »
For The Washington Free Beacon, Bill Gertz reports: A senior CIA official has died in an apparent suicide this week from injuries sustained after jumping off a building in northern Virginia, according to sources close to the CIA.
CIA spokesman Christopher White confirmed the death and said the incident did not take place at CIA headquarters in McLean, Va.
“We can confirm that there was an individual fatally injured at a facility where agency work is done,” White told the Washington Free Beacon. “He was rushed to a local area hospital where he subsequently died. Due to privacy reasons and out of respect for the family, we are not releasing additional information at this time.”
Matthew Continetti writes: Another man might have assumed, correctly, that launching a campaign of insult and insinuation against two billionaires would result in renewed attention to his own finances. Not Harry Reid. The Senate Democratic leader since 2005, and the Senate majority leader since 2007, is not one to reflect before speaking. His mouth runs far ahead of his brain.
“Reid and his family appear to work within the confines of the law, which should not be surprising, because Reid writes that law…”
“What Reid did not explain was that the bill promised a cavalcade of benefits to real estate developers, corporations, and local institutions that were paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in lobbying fees to his sons’ and son-in-law’s firms.”
“…the Washington Post in 2012 ‘uncovered nearly 50 members who helped direct millions of dollars in earmarks to projects that either held the potential to enhance the surroundings of a lawmaker’s own property, or aided entities connected to their immediate family,’ and one of those members was Reid.”
Republicans could win the midterms without fixing the party’s problems.
Charlie Cook writes: …Amy Walter wrote a piece about Republicans who worry privately that success in 2014 will leave their party with false hope for 2016: “Even though their party is poised to hold the House and has a good chance of winning control of the Senate, these Republican umbrella carriers aren’t smiling. They worry that success in 2014 will mask the real, structural problems that Republicans need to fix before 2016. Namely, that the party doesn’t stand for much more than standing against President Obama. As important, the GOP heads into 2016 with a brand that has been deeply tarnished and not easily repaired.”
“Republicans do great among those 65 years of age and older, and well among those between 45 and 64. However, they are getting crushed among those between 18 and 29, as well as losing 30-to-44-year-olds…”
This is so true. If Republicans do gain a Senate majority, which they may very well do in November, and manage to pick up eight or more House seats, it will be because of who they are not, not because of who they are. They aren’t in Obama’s party, and they aren’t in the party that unilaterally passed the Affordable Care Act, which, like the president, is unpopular. Republicans may win a bunch of races without measurably improving their party’s “brand” and without making any clear progress among minority, young, moderate, and female voters. The fact that midterm electorates are generally older, whiter, and more conservative than their counterparts in presidential elections exacerbates the difference between the world of 2014 and the one that will exist in 2016. The Republicans can win in 2014 without having fixed their problems. Read the rest of this entry »
Col. Jessep: I know what I said! I don’t have to have it read back to me.
Gibbs encouraged the president to be more involved in rallying and exciting Democratic voters in the coming months, because otherwise the Senate is “definitely, absolutely” in danger of falling in to Republican control…Read the rest…
Kevin D. Williamson writes: Now we know what it takes to nudge Congress’s sense of self-respect into a state of at least semi-consciousness.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, God bless her, is throwing a very public fit over findings that the CIA spied on Congress — on her Select Senate Intelligence Committee, specifically — as part of a campaign to undermine the committee’s investigation into an interrogation program that the agency does not much want to see investigated.
“Willing subservience to the presidency is not the mark of a legislative branch that has any meaningful sense of self-respect, or any real understanding of its constitutional role.”
It’s a strange contradiction: Senators do not want for self-respect. If anything, the individual members of that august collection of a hundred self-identified future presidents and vice presidents suffer from excessive self-regard at levels that are frequently embarrassing and occasionally delusional. Look into the eyes of John Kerry or Joe Biden and consider for a moment the political incubator that hatched such specimens of Miltonic-Luciferian self-importance. But the Senate, and Congress as a whole, have been experiencing something of a crisis of confidence in recent decades. Our constitutional order makes Congress the effective seat of domestic governance: Only Congress can appropriate funds; only Congress can tax. Spending bills must originate in the House, presidential appointments are subject to Senate approval. Only Congress can coin money. And while the Constitution entrusts the president with some important powers regarding such outward-directed issues as military engagements, only Congress can declare war or ratify a treaty.
It’s not that Reid went off-script, or ventured a little too far over the line, when voicing Democrats’ frustration with Obamacare’s critics. He wasn’t even the first to use this language. The problem is Harry Reid is A. not as gifted at dark-force big-lie campaign messaging as some of his peers, and B. He did it on the Senate floor.
Not that their overall strategy is without merit. In late February, a pattern began to emerge, no longer content to backpedal and rationalize, Democrats went on the offensive. Gambling that voters are tired of hearing Republicans bitch about Obamacare, they settled on a unified campaign message, to go out there and say, with a straight face, that every one of the negative stories about health care from their opponents is completely made up.
This bright idea lasted less than one week before it blew up in their face, with Reid’s stunning Senate speech. It’s only March 1st, and the ammunition provided by Harry Reid has been assembled into an NRSC ad. The opening is so good, and Republicans are so inept at counter-messaging, Guy Benson complains Republicans took too long to respond. He gets the scoop:
I’ve been lamenting Republicans’ haphazard and sclerotic response to Harry Reid’s Obamacare smears, wondering with frustration why the party hadn’t produced any instant YouTube ads or mobilized to draw attention to the comments. Last night I received word from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) — the group devoted to relegating Reid to minority status — that they were working on it. They’ve since shared their production exclusively with Townhall:
If you’re wondering why the ad doesn’t actually feature Reid’s remarks, Senate rules severely restrict campaign committees’ ability to use floor footage in ads. This strikes me as a bizarre and anachronistic regulation, but the rules are the rules. Unless, of course, you break them to accumulate more political power, which is how Reid rolls….
The NRSC spot takes Reid to task by highlighting individuals whose stories directly rebut the Nevada Senator’s initial assertion that every single “horror story” is “untrue.” He’s since dialed that back a bit, stating that merely the “vast majority” of certain accounts are “deceptive.” RNC ChairmanReince Priebus seized on a piece I wrote at Hot Air, which runs though a number of powerful stories that Reid snottily dismissed in the above floor speech. Priebus did not mince words:
One year after writing and passing the first Senate Democratic budget resolution in four years, Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said her conference will not make an effort in the 2014 midterm election year.
In a statement, Murray said there was no reason to do a fiscal 2015 budget after the two-year deal struck in December with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
That deal set budget ceilings for the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years. The 2015 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.
“Fiscal Year 2015 is settled, the Appropriations Committees are already working with their bipartisan spending levels, and now we should work together to build on our two-year bipartisan budget, not create more uncertainty for families and businesses by immediately relitigating it,” Murray said.
“I went into my negotiations with Chairman Ryan hoping we could give the American people some much needed certainty after years of lurching to crisis to crisis, and I was very glad that our two-year budget deal accomplished that,” she added.
House Republicans are planning to do a budget, however. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday he “expects” it to be done.
That will set up a contrast with the Senate, where Republicans for years criticized Democrats for not doing a budget. Read the rest of this entry »
February 25th 1870: Hiram Rhodes Revels, first African-American to sit in Congress, inaugurated
On this day in 1870 Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first African-American to sit in Congress, was inaugurated into the Senate. Before he was elected to the Senate, Revels was a Methodist minister and led black Union regiments during the Civil War. Revels gained his post after the Mississippi state legislature voted for Revels to fill one of the state’s Senate seats which had been vacant since Mississippi seceded. His appointment was initially resisted by the United States Senate, and his legitimacy was debated for several days. On February 25th, the Senate voted to allow Revels to take up his seat, with only Republicans voting for him and Democrats against. His inauguration that day received a standing ovation as the Senate witnessed the first African-American member of Congress joining their ranks. Revels served one term in the Senate, consistently pushing for racial equality, until he resigned in 1871 to become a college president.
Niels Lesniewski reports: In a major departure from procedure during Wednesday’s climactic vote on suspending the federal debt limit, the Senate kept some senators’ votes secret while the nearly hourlong tally was under way — a move that has drawn sharp criticism from Capitol Hill reporters.
“We were very disappointed that Wednesday’s change in Senate voting protocol kept us from giving the public real-time access to this key vote…The tactic certainly gives the concept of legislative transparency a black eye.”
The stakes for Wednesday’s vote were as high as they come, with the full faith and credit of the United States, the political future of Republican leaders and another government shutdown showdown on the line.
On an average day, any C-SPAN viewer would know how senators voted in real time because votes are read aloud. (See our post on the six senators who appear to have changed their votes.)
But on Wednesday, the clerks did not name names. Instead of announcing the rolling vote tally as the vote went along on the critical motion to limit debate on the debt limit measure, senators were allowed to cast their votes in relative secrecy. Overlooked at the time, it has since caught the attention of numerous reporters.
Matthew Boyle reports: Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) says she agrees that Republicans can’t trust President Obama to enforce the law, but they should immediately move forward on comprehensive immigration reform, anyway.
Ayotte, who rode the Tea Party wave in 2010 to her election to the Senate but has emerged as one of the upper chamber’s more liberal Republicans, conceded there is a “trust deficit” with Obama.
“There’s a trust deficit that the Speaker is facing right now and it’s related to ObamaCare and the disastrous rollout,” she said. “Because, let’s think about it, immigration means doing a lot of complex things well. And in addition to that, the administration keeps issuing executive orders to change the law, very frequently.”
However, Ayotte insisted the GOP should move forward anyway.
“I think we should solve this,” she continued. “I think [Boehner] can find a way forward. Certainly, the bill that came out of the Senate was not perfect, but it was a good solution to a hard problem. I think it’s an important issue to solve – not only for the country, but for the Republican Party.”
From The Corner: House GOP leaders on Thursday released the following one-page document outlining their “standards for immigration reform”:
Our nation’s immigration system is broken and our laws are not being enforced. Washington’s failure to fix them is hurting our economy and jeopardizing our national security. The overriding purpose of our immigration system is to promote and further America’s national interests and that is not the case today. The serious problems in our immigration system must be solved, and we are committed to working in a bipartisan manner to solve them. But they cannot be solved with a single, massive piece of legislation that few have read and even fewer understand, and therefore, we will not go to a conference with the Senate’s immigration bill. The problems in our immigration system must be solved through a step-by-step, common-sense approach that starts with securing our country’s borders, enforcing our laws, and implementing robust enforcement measures. These are the principals guiding us in that effort.
Border Security and Interior Enforcement Must Come First
It is the fundamental duty of any government to secure its borders, and the United States is failing in this mission. We must secure our borders now and verify that they are secure. In addition, we must ensure now that when immigration reform is enacted, there will be a zero tolerance policy for those who cross the border illegally or overstay their visas in the future. Faced with a consistent pattern of administrations of both parties only selectively enforcing our nation’s immigration laws, we must enact reform that ensures that a President cannot unilaterally stop immigration enforcement.
About this chart, Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey concludes: “This is evidence of correlation, not causation … but it’s an intriguing correlation. Be sure to read Jeff’s post for the explanations of methodology.”
Jeff concludes: “Vote Republican: help America regain trust in Congress.”
Well, this morning there was another Morrissey post that caught my eye. In a post about Congressional approval ratings, Ed writes:
Here’s the problem with this analysis of the poll, however — Congressional approval ratings always stink. These may stink more than usual, but the 90%+ reelection rate for Congressional incumbents is probably not in serious danger, except perhaps in the Senate, where the numbers don’t favor Democrats.
We’ve had a couple more elections since my 2010 post, so let’s run those numbers again.
Alexis Levinson reports: WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats successfully wrangled enough Republican votes to get an extension of unemployment insurance benefits past a key procedural hurdle, in spite of early pessimism about the bill’s prospects.
The bill must clear a second procedural hurdle before the Senate finally votes on the bill itself.
Unemployment insurance benefits were not included in the budget agreement crafted by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, and Democrats are making a hard push to extend them outside of the budget deal.
But Republicans have objected to the proposal, sponsored by Republican Nevada Sen. Dean Heller and Democratic Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, because it does not include any offsets for the spending. Democrats have pressured Republicans on the issue, citing the 1.3 million people who lost those benefits when they expired Dec. 28, and saying that not to extend those benefits was shameful.
For Reason, A. Barton Hinkle writes: You can’t swing a dead cat by the tail these days without hitting a news story about the lack of legislation issuing from the 113th Congress. From CNN to McClatchy to NPR to the L.A. Times, the air is thick with pieces lamenting that the 113th makes “the infamous ‘do-nothing Congress’ of the late 1940s look downright prolific.”
Apparently we’re all supposed to feel really bad about that.
Before the holiday break, Congress sent just 70 bills to the president’s desk. That compares — unfavorably, we are given to understand — with the 395 bills passed by the 80th Congress, whose supposed indolence Harry Truman ran against. It even compares unfavorably to the 112th Congress, which led to only 231 new laws.
The censorious pieces never stop to explain precisely why Congress should be judged according to the number of bills it passes. That’s simply assumed. This is one of those telltale signs of media bias that are always cropping up, if you keep your eyes open. (Here’s another: Run a Google News search for the terms “economic inequality” and “economic liberty.” The former shows up more than 50 times as often. Guess why.)
Unpack the assumption behind the stories about congressional productivity, and you find a bias toward statism: the notion that government action is inherently good, and that more government action is inherently better — and that this is true as an analytic proposition, entirely separate from whatever a particular government action might entail.
Mark Tapscott writes: Being the end of December, journalists are scrambling to come up with fresh content for their sites during the slowest news period of the year.
That’s why readers encounter so many “Year in Review” and “Best of 2013” posts between Christmas and New Year’s.
In that spirit, here’s a YIR post that runs counter to a common theme in the liberal precincts of the mainstream media — there were fewer tornados in 2013, not more, as global warming advocates often claim.
Danielle Thomsen writes: According to a new Gallup poll, Americans are more frustrated with Congress than ever before. In the aftermath of the government shutdown in October, who can blame them? Here is one solution for all those who are fed up with the dysfunction of Congress: Elect more Republicans.
Well, not just any Republicans. Elect more Republican women.
This may sound surprising to those who blame the GOP for the government shutdown. Yet as you may recall, a group of female senators led by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has been credited for moving beyond obstructionist politics and compromising to reach a deal to reopen the government.
But it isn’t that simple. To maximize the effectiveness of women in office, we must focus on recruiting, training, supporting and electing more Republican women to Congress. While there is a dearth of females in Congress, Democratic congresswomen now outnumber Republican congresswomen more than three to one in the House and four to one in the Senate. Read the rest of this entry »
There is a disturbing undercurrent in Obama’s campaign-style speech on behalf of Obamacare at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building today. Obama never credits opponents of the law with the substance of their criticism. He does not attribute decent motives or good faith opposition to them. Rather, he treats them as “wreckers” (as they were deemed in the Soviet Union) guilty of destructive thought crime:
“Now, we may never satisfy the law’s opponents. I think that’s fair to say. Some of them are rooting for this law to fail — that’s not my opinion, by the way, they say it pretty explicitly. (Laughter.) Some have already convinced themselves that the law has failed, regardless of the evidence. But I would advise them to check with the people who are here today and the people that they represent all across the country whose lives have been changed for the better by the Affordable Care Act.”
Mr. President, We trump your beneficiaries with the millions of citizens whose lives have already been blighted by Obamacare!
Alexandra Jaffe reports: Eleven Republican doctors are running for the Senate, hoping that voters will see their medical expertise as an asset amid the administration’s botched rollout of ObamaCare.
“Doctors are in a very unique position to look at the financing of healthcare,” Rep. Paul Broun, a family physician running for the GOP nomination for Georgia’s open Senate seat, told The Hill.
“We go into medicine for one reason, and one reason only: Because we care about people, we want the people who we serve to have a productive, happy, healthy life,” he added. “That’s the kind of policymaker we should have in place in dealing with healthcare policy.”
Doctors running in Senate races from North Carolina to Oregon are all pitching voters on their experience in the medical field.
It’s not unusual for doctors to seek elected office. But it’s not necessarily typical for them to win, however. The Senate counts only three physicians in its ranks. Last year, former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, a Democrat who ran largely on his record in medicine, lost to now-Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).
A 2012 Gallup survey rated medical doctors as the third most-trustworthy profession, below only nurses and pharmacists.
In contrast, members of Congress were second from the bottom, considered more trustworthy than only care salespeople.
That makes physician candidates well poised to hammer home a main Republican narrative that has emerged in recent weeks — that Democrats who pledged to Americans they could keep their insurance under ObamaCare are untrustworthy. Read the rest of this entry »
For all the gnashing of teeth over the lack of comity and civility in Washington, the real problem is not etiquette but the breakdown of constitutional norms.
Such as the one just spectacularly blown up in the Senate. To get three judges onto a coveted circuit court, frustrated Democrats abolished the filibuster for executive appointments and (non–Supreme Court) judicial nominations.
The problem is not the change itself. It’s fine that a president staffing his administration should need 51 votes rather than 60. Doing so for judicial appointments, which are for life, is a bit dicier. Nonetheless, for about 200 years the filibuster was nearly unknown in blocking judicial nominees. So we are really just returning to an earlier norm.
The violence to constitutional norms here consisted in how that change was executed. By brute force — a near party-line vote of 52-48. This was a disgraceful violation of more than two centuries of precedent. If a bare majority can change the fundamental rules that govern an institution, then there are no rules. Senate rules today are whatever the majority decides they are that morning.
Jeff Poor writes: On Hugh Hewitt’s radio show earlier this week, National Review columnist Mark Steyn talked about Obamacare and the long-term impact it will have beyond its plagued initial rollout.
Steyn tied Obamacare to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s implementation of the nuclear option to how Obamacare was initially passed with procedural trickery in the Senate in 2009 and then in 2010.
“Well, they will say what he is, that his thing is getting to 51,” Steyn said. “And a lot of, you know, and that seems cute, because we admire political operators. So the guy who can get to 51, we think he’s a smart guy. So all the people who like naked power plays will think this is a pretty cute thing he did today. And everyone will reverse their position on a dime like Obama did. But in the end, it’s, you can be too clever for your own good. This is how Obamacare became law, because of procedural trickery because Ted Kennedy had died, so it means there was a vacancy in the Senate, you couldn’t go back and correct and amend the Senate version of the bill because they were a senator short.”
Alex Pappas writes: Conservatives are outraged over Harry Reid pulling the trigger on the so-called nuclear option in the Senate, making it impossible for Republicans to stop President Obama from nominating anyone he wants to positions in the government.
But some on the right are finding comfort in the theory that Reid’s legislative maneuver could actually make it easier for Republicans to eventually repeal Obamacare — if all the pieces come together in 2017.
On Thursday, Senate Democrats — led by Reid, the Senate majority leader — took the drastic step of changing the body’s rules to prevent Republicans from being able to filibuster most of the president’s nominees. Read the rest of this entry »
On demanding an up-or-down vote on presidential nominations:
2005:“Of all the hollow arguments Senate Republicans have made in their attempt to scrap the opposition’s right to have a say on President Bush’s judicial nominees, the one that’s most hypocritical insists that history is on their side in demanding a “simple up-or-down vote” on the Senate floor.”
2013: “From now on, if any senator tries to filibuster a presidential nominee, that filibuster can be stopped with a simple majority, not the 60-vote requirement of the past. That means a return to the democratic process of giving nominees an up-or-down vote, allowing them to be either confirmed or rejected by a simple majority.”
Democrats break the filibuster in a precedent they may regret
Saul Alinsky tradition, and on Thursday they proved it with a partisan vote to break the Senate filibuster rule for confirming judges and executive-branch nominees. The new rules will empower the party’s liberals for as long as they control the White House and Senate, but they will also set a precedent for conservatives to exploit in the future.
Majority Leader Harry Reid broke a GOP filibuster of a judicial nominee on a 52-48 vote. He was prodded by the Democratic Senate classes of 2006-2012, younger liberals in a hurry like Al Franken (Minnesota), Jeff Merkley (Oregon) and Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire). These are the same liberals who enjoyed a rare 60-vote supermajority in 2009-2010 when they rammed through ObamaCare without a single Republican vote. They view the minority as an inconvenience to be rolled. Read the rest of this entry »
What is the filibuster? It is “a time-honored Senate procedure that prevents a bare majority of senators from running roughshod,” according to our friends on the New York Times editorial page. But that was in 2005, when Republicans frustrated over Democratic filibusters of President George W. Bush’s judicial nominations were (with National Review’s support) considering the so-called nuclear option, the overblown name of which suggests that it is rather more than a change in the Senate’s procedural rules. The Times denounced the Republicans’ “rank hypocrisy” in 2005, as did any number of Democrats. Having reversed themselves at the dictates of convenience, they show themselves to be hypocrites on the matter at hand and also on the subject of hypocrisy — call it hypocrisy squared.
The Democrats here are helping themselves to ill-gotten gains. Using the filibuster and other stalling techniques, they kept judicial vacancies open by closing them to Bush nominees. Miguel Estrada was kept off of the D.C. Court of Appeals by a filibuster; Democrats refused to process John Roberts’s nomination to the same court (to succeed James Buckley, the gentleman previously known in these pages as the sainted junior senator from New York). Later, when Roberts was named to the Supreme Court, Democrats blocked George W. Bush’s nominee for his replacement, Peter D. Keisler. Roberts’s earlier nomination advanced only after Republicans took control of the Senate, something that Harry Reid in his hubris seems to think will never happen again.
What a difference eight years and a Senate majority makes. Back in 2005, Senate Democrats (including Barack Obama) were in the minority – and dead-set against a Republican plan to allow judicial nominations to proceed to an up-or-down vote based on a simple majority. The so-called nuclear option, warned Obama and others, would have the Founders spinning in their graves and usher in a tyranny of the majority in the world’s greatest deliberative body.
But now, faced with a truculent Republican Senate minority, the Democrats done just that, effectively overturning 200 years of precedent. For more on what it all means.
With Failing Credibility and Lacking Popular Support, Democrats Employ Nuclear Option, in Desperate Suicidal Power Grab. One-Party Agenda No Longer Tempered by Inconveniences Like Separation of Powers or Checks and Balances. Death-Wish Confirmed.