Life In The Republican-Controlled Senate

On Friday, there was debate on the Keystone XL Pipeline bill in the Senate, and ultimately Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t have the numbers for cloture on the bill.

But before his attempt to get cloture on the bill, several of the more obnoxious enviroloons among the Democrats in the Senate attempted to lard the bill up with amendments. McConnell made motions to table nearly all of those amendments, and he had the votes to successfully do so without having to put up with the little 60-second speeches in support by the authors of those amendments which often accompany them. After all, who wants to hear Ed Markey rail, for whatever length of time, on the evils and planetary destruction a simple pipeline would bring?

This was the scene – captured, of course, by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s YouTube channel, with the headline “McConnell Refuses To Allow Debate On Amendments” and the caption: “Republican Senator Mitch McConnell shuts down debate on amendments by refusing to allow Democratic senators (Senators Markey, Carper, Whitehouse, Leahy, and Reed) to speak on their own amendments.”

But here’s a clip from that same debate which didn’t make Reid’s YouTube feed…

It’s going to work like this for the entirety of the current Congress. Reid will snipe at McConnell as McConnell sniped at Reid, and McConnell will “big-boy” him in response.

Will much of anything be accomplished? Probably not. It’s not impossible for something like trade promotion authority to pass the Senate and be signed by the President, but virtually anything else of a legislative nature – Keystone XL, repeal or alterations to Obamacare, tax reform, regulatory reform or any of the other items of major importance McConnell or his counterpart in the House John Boehner would like to advance are all dead on arrival at the president’s desk if they can even make it that far.

McConnell will be fighting off dilatory amendments like the ones in Reid’s video clip for the next two years, and he’ll subsequently be fighting losing battles on cloture votes.

Last November’s elections didn’t eliminate gridlock in Washington, they intensified it. The question is whether McConnell and the rest of the GOP Senate caucus can keep the media and the Democrats from blaming them for it – when that is clearly their intention. Every time the president makes noises about his eagerness to work with Republicans on HIS agenda while repeatedly threatening vetoes on Republican priorities, it’s an indication that since he’s a lame duck he has nothing to lose by engaging McConnell and Boehner in a running game of chicken.



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