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Dirty Harry Reid goes nuclear…on Obama’s jobs bill vote; Cornyn: “Tyranny”

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By Michelle Malkin  •  October 6, 2011 10:41 PM

Hey, President Obama? How about another press conference tomorrow to condemn those playing politics, putting partisanship over country, changing the rules, and playing games with your jobs bill? No, not Mitch McConnell and the Republicans.

Dirty Harry Reid and the Democrats.

Here’s a link round-up of all the shenanigans tonight. The GOP brought a knife to what they was a routine fight. Reid brought a bomb.

Via Fox News:

In a stunning turn of events Thursday night where tempers appeared to boil over on the floor, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and many Senate Democrats, through a complicated bit of legislative jiu-jitsu, managed to change the rules of the body, in a manner similar to the so-called “nuclear option.”

The vote centered around a procedural maneuver known as “a motion to suspend Senate rules.”

The tactic was an attempt by the minority to force what would have been a symbolic vote on President Obama’s jobs plan. It would have required 67 votes to pass, a target Senate Republicans were unlikely to meet.

However, upset by what he felt was an effort to filibuster by amendment a bill dealing with alleged currency manipulation by the Chinese that had passed a 60 vote threshold twice, Reid ruled the motion out of order. The chair, which is also controlled by Democrats, agreed. McConnell objected to that ruling and asked for a vote to decide the issue. That vote fell in Reid’s favor by a mostly party line vote of 51-48 (Ben Nelson, D-Nev., voted with the Republicans)

As a result of Thursday’s maneuvering, the minority will no longer be able to offer such motions after cloture has been invoked. In the past, the measure has been used by the minority to delay proceedings or force tough votes for the majority.

No motion to suspend has actually reached the 67 vote threshold since 1941.

Republicans were apoplectic that Reid brought a bazooka to a knife fight.

“You were going to win on this bill — you didn’t need to jam us,” said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., “America doesn’t need less debate, it needs more debate.”

Via Business Insider:

After cloture was reached on the currency bill, McConnell called for multiple procedural “motions to suspend the rules,” which would have forced embarrassing votes on the issues — a tactic used occasionally to make a political point on controversial legislation.

In response, a frustrated Reid used a the rarely-used “tactical nuclear option” to change the Senate rules by a simple-majority vote to make it impossible for the minority party to call for such votes. He justified it saying it would allow un-ending motions and votes — serving as a second filibuster after the Senate has already voted to end debate.

“If I were in the minority, I wouldn’t do this, I think it’s dilatory and wrong,” he said.

“The Republican Senators have filed nine motions to suspend the rules to consider further amendments but the same logic that allows for nine such motions could lead to the consideration of 99 such amendments,” Reid said before moving to change the rules.

“This has to come to an end. This is not a way to legislate,” Reid said, warning of an “endless vote-a-rama,” without the change.

Reid’s move is different than the so-called ‘nuclear option’ — which was considered during the health care reform debate and as a way to clear a backlog of judicial appointments. Such a measure would rewrite Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster entirely.

McConnell was irate at the rules change, which sets a precedent for the majority party to amend the rules to block opposition motions — and may come back to bite Democrats if they lose the majority.

“Look, let’s don’t change this place,” McConnell said in an impassioned speech. “America doesn’t need less debate. It needs more debate…I think we made a big mistake tonight. And as soon as we all kind of cool off and think about it over the weekend, I hope we’ll undo what we did tonight because it’s not in the best interest of this institution or the American people.”

Yid with Lid boils it down:

Harry Reid invented a new Senate rule tonight, its called “Because I said so!”

Minority leader Mitch McConnell only wanted to do what the President asked, force a speedy vote on Obama’s Jobs bill. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a member of the President’s party would not allow it to happen and he created a new Senate rule to make it happen. Because he didn’t have enough votes for its passage, Reid delayed Senate action on Obama’s bill, Instead he scheduled debate and vote on a bill focusing on China’s currency manipulation.

The President however, has been ostracizing the Republicans for not passing his class warfare jobs bill even though he cannot get it through the branch of Congress his own party controls. In answer to the President’s demands for a vote, Minority McConnell made a “motion to suspend the rules,” to allow a vote on the amendments to the China currency bill,one of which was the Jobs bill. These motions require a two-thirds vote so they are almost always defeated. But the vote would have established for the the Country what was really going on, Obama’s charges about a GOP delay were nothing but a cynical political move made by a president who cares much more about his failing re-election effort than our failing economy.

…In one stroke Harry Reid was able to rewrite Senate rules making it even harder than it already is for the minority party to force votes on any amendments, or even discuss them. This is the Senate, Constitutionally designed to be a deliberative body, but in one fell swoop Harry Reid said no, because he said so. Should Republicans retake the Senate next year, it’s something that could come back to haunt Democrats in a major way.

The Hill:

In a shocking development Thursday evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) triggered a rarely used procedural option informally called the “nuclear option” to change the Senate rules.

Reid and 50 members of his caucus voted to change Senate rules unilaterally to prevent Republicans from forcing votes on uncomfortable amendments after the chamber has voted to move to final passage of a bill.

Reid’s coup passed by a vote of 51-48, leaving Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fuming.

The surprise move stunned Republicans, who did not expect Reid to bring heavy artillery to what had been a humdrum knife fight over amendments to China currency legislation.

The Democratic leader had become fed up with Republican demands for votes on motions to suspend the rules after the Senate had voted to limit debate earlier in the day.

McConnell had threatened such a motion to force a vote on the original version of President Obama’s jobs package, which many Democrats don’t like because it would limit tax deductions for families earning over $250,000. The jobs package would have been considered as an amendment.

McConnell wanted to embarrass the president by demonstrating how few Democrats are willing to support his jobs plan as first drafted. (Senate Democrats have since rewritten the jobs package to pay for its stimulus provisions with a 5.6 surtax on income over $1 million.)

Reid’s move strips the minority of the power of forcing politically-charged procedural votes after the Senate has voted to cut off a potential filibuster and move to a final vote, which the Senate did on the China measure Tuesday morning, 62-38.

The latest schedule: “The Senate will hold a pro-forma session tomorrow at noon, and then is out until Tuesday at 2:00 p.m.”

Senate Republicans gave play-by-play of the mud fight on the floor.

Sen. DeMint tweeted: “Reid & Dems just pulled the ‘nuclear option’ to stop minority from offering amendments.”

Sen. Cornyn had one word: “Tyranny.”

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