BREAKING: Senate GOP Stares Reid Down, Beats Back Omnibus Bill

UPDATE NO. 4: Rich Lowry says the biggest heroes in this deal were McConnell and DeMint:

Why did it go down? You had Jim DeMint rallying outside opposition, and pushing Reid’s back against the wall procedurally with the threat to have the whole monstrosity read on the floor; that was time Reid presumably couldn’t afford to waste given everything else he wants to jam through.

Then, you had Mitch McConnell on the phone all day with Republican appropriators–Reid’s base of support on the bill–twisting their arms to come out against it. My understanding is that by the end he had all the appropriators committed against it, with the exception of two who were undecided. McConnell told the appropriators that passing this bill, and passing it this way, would represent a rejection of everything the mid-term election was about, and ultimately he prevailed. Again and again over the last two years, McConnell has done what a minority leader needs to do–keep his troops united.

UPDATE NO. 3: We caught up with Rep. Cassidy, and he had this to say:

“Americans were calling Representatives and Senators all day long to voice their opposition to this bill.  At this point, it appears Sen. Reid heard, and is pulling a bill which is filled with billions in wasteful spending.”

UPDATE NO. 2 (See below for Update No. 1): Sen. Vitter weighs in:

“Defeating the pork-laden omnibus appropriations bill – $1.2 trillion, 1,924 pages, more than 6,000 earmarks – is a huge victory for the American people.  This will allow the new, more conservative Congress to start to really go after spending and debt,” said Vitter.

It needs to be said, so you don’t read it somewhere else and think we’re shilling for Vitter, that he had 48 earmarks in the bill. (Download a spreadsheet of earmarks from Vitter and Mary Landrieu here). We’re told all of those were requests he made before he signed off on the earmark moratorium, which apparently is true of most of the Republican earmarks in the bill, and several GOP senators – John Thune (R-ND) being perhaps the most prominent of them – had vowed to pull their own earmarks out. And on the spreadsheet you’ll notice that Vitter’s earmarks were mostly levee or coastal restoration projects, or military expenditures. Take that for what it’s worth.

At NRO’s The Corner tonight, a great piece of news

Speaking now on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) says he is “sorry and disappointed” to announce that he does not have the votes for the omnibus spending package. Instead, he will work with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) to draft a temporary continuing resolution to fund the government into early next year.

Apparently, there are enough Republicans in the Senate to filibuster the bill. There were nine GOP Senators Reid was talking to in an effort to peel off enough votes to pass the omnibus, with its $1.1 trillion in discretionary spending and $8 billion in pork – including $10 million for a center dedicated to the ghost of John Murtha and a half-million for a shrine to Ted Kennedy.

And Sen. Jim DeMint’s threat to have the entire bill read aloud, which would take up a minimum of three days and destroy Reid’s legislative agenda for the nauseating lame duck session he’s dragging the Senate and the rest of the country through, was enough to force the Senate Majority Leader to strike his colors on the omnibus spending bill.

So instead, tonight there will be cloture votes on the DREAM Act and a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal bill.

UPDATE: Lots of crowing from the GOP Senators. Mitch McConnell…

“I’m proud of our team for holding together,” McConnell tells us. “I’m proud of the appropriations committee members as well, who decided that this is not the way to do it.”

“This is a victory for the country,” McConnell says. “We decided that we’re not going to pass a 2,000-page bill that nobody has seen since yesterday. That’s not the way to operate and that’s not the message from the November elections. We decided not to do it. Unified Republican opposition is what got it done.”

John McCain…

“I know this is a seminal moment, because for the first time since I’ve been here, we stood up and said ‘enough.’”

Apparently McCain came on strong at the last minute. The Daily Caller reports he went on Larry Kudlow’s show this afternoon and said “The fact is, we should filibuster it, no matter if we shut down the government because the American people, as you said have spoken.” McCain also joined DeMint in threatening to have the bill read aloud by the clerks.



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