Oct 07, 2011 2:17 PM GMT
So when the Republicans threatened to do this, the media and the left were up in arms - but when the Democrats do it...? Are these really precedents they want to be setting? And over what? Do the Democrats really want to start a trade war with China? Did they not learn from the Depression?
The Senate descended into procedural chaos Thursday night as Democrats forced a change in Senate rules and shut down a GOP effort to bog down a Chinese currency bill with a series of unrelated amendments.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s move to suddenly overhaul a key Senate rule without warning infuriated Republicans and put an already bitterly divided chamber on edge as senators from both sides of the aisle traded angry accusations over whether the fight would fundamentally limit the rights of the minority party.
By a 51-48 vote, the Senate voted along party lines to change the precedent and limit how amendments can be considered once a filibuster is defeated. Under normal procedure, the Senate has 30 hours of debate after 60 senators agree to end a filibuster. Amendments can be considered during those 30 hours if each side agrees by unanimous consent to schedule a vote — or if a senator moves to waive the rules, which would then require the support of 67 senators in order to succeed.
But under the new procedure, senators can no longer move to waive the rules once a filibuster is defeated — a battle that threatens to further inflame partisan tensions and stymie legislative action at a time when frustration with Congress is at an all-time high.
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.