Tag Archives: Harry Reid

In Which Harry Reid Waxes Eloquent On The Many Virtues Of The Filibuster

The full text of Reid’s 2005 floor speech:

Mr. President, yesterday morning I spoke here about a statement the Majority Leader issued calling the filibuster a “procedural gimmick.”

The Websters dictionary defines “gimmick” as – – “an ingenious new scheme or angle.” No Mr. President, the filibuster is not a scheme. And it is not new. The filibuster is far from a “procedural gimmick.” It is part of the fabric of this institution. It was well known in colonial legislatures, and it is an integral part of our country’s 217 years of history.

The first filibuster in the U.S. Congress happened in 1790. It was used by lawmakers from Virginia and South Carolina who were trying to prevent Philadelphia from hosting the first Congress.

Since 1790, the filibuster has been employed hundreds and hundreds of times. Senators have used it to stand up to popular presidents. To block legislation. And yes – even to stall executive nominees.

The roots of the filibuster can be found in the Constitution and in the Senate rules.

In establishing each House of Congress, Article I Section 5 of the Constitution states that “Each House may determine the rules.”

In crafting the rules of the Senate, Senators established the right to extended debate – and they formalized it with Rule XXII almost 100 years ago. This rule codified the practice that Senators could debate extensively.

Under Rule XXII, debate may be cut off under limited circumstances.

    • 67 votes to end a filibuster of a motion to amend a Senate rule
    • 60 votes to end a filibuster against any other legislative business.

A conversation between Thomas Jefferson and George Washington describes the United States Senate and our Founders Fathers vision of it.
Jefferson asked Washington what is the purpose of the Senate?

Washington responded with a question of his own, “Why did you pour that coffee into your saucer?” “To cool it,” Jefferson replied. To which Washington said; “Even so, we pour legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it.”

And this is exactly what the filibuster does. It encourages moderation and consensus. It gives voice to the minority, so that cooler heads may prevail.

It also separates us from the House of Representatives – where the majority rules. And it is very much in keeping with the spirit of the government established by the Framers of our Constitution: Limited Government…Separation of Powers…Checks and Balances.

Mr. President, the filibuster is a critical tool in keeping the majority in check. This central fact has been acknowledged and even praised by Senators from both parties.

In fact, my colleague from Georgia – Senator Isakson – recently shared a conversation he had with an official from the Iraqi government. The Senator had asked this official if he was worried that the majority in Iraq would overrun the minority. But the official replied… “no….we have the secret weapon called the ‘filibuster.’”

In recalling that conversation, Senator Isakson remarked: “If there were ever a reason for optimism… it is one of [the Iraqi] minority leaders, proudly stating one of the pillars and principles of our government, as the way they would ensure that the majority never overran the minority.”

And he was right. I spoke yesterday about Senator Holt and his 1939 filibuster to protect workers’ wages and hours. There are also recent examples of the filibuster achieving good.

In 1985, Senators from rural states used the filibuster to force Congress to address a major crisis in which thousands of farmers were on the brink of bankruptcy. In 1995, the filibuster was used by Senators to protect the rights of workers to a fair wage and a safe workplace.

Now Mr. President, I will not stand here and say the filibuster has always been used for positive purposes. Just as it has been used to bring about social change, it was also used to stall progress that this country needed to make. It is often shown that the filibuster was used against Civil Right legislation. But Civil Rights legislation passed – – Civil Rights advocates met the burden.

And it is noteworthy that today the Congressional Black Caucus is opposed to the Nuclear Option. For further analysis, let’s look at Robert Caro, a noted historian and Pulitzer Prize winner.

At a meeting I attended with other Senators, he spoke about the history of the filibuster. He made a point about its legacy that was important. He noted that when legislation is supported by the majority of Americans, it eventually overcomes a filibuster’s delay – as public protest far outweighs any Senator’s appetite to filibuster.

But when legislation only has the support of the minority, the filibuster slows the legislation …prevents a Senator from ramming it through…and gives the American people enough time join the opposition.

Mr. President, the right to extended debate is never more important than when one party controls Congress and the White House. In these cases, the filibuster serves as a check on power and preserves our limited government.

Right now, the only check on President Bush is the Democrats ability to voice their concern in the Senate. If Republicans rollback our rights in this Chamber, there will be no check on their power. The radical, right wing will be free to pursue any agenda they want. And not just on judges. Their power will be unchecked on Supreme Court nominees…the President’s nominees in general…and legislation like Social Security privatization.

Of course the President would like the power to name anyone he wants to lifetime seats on the Supreme Court and other federal courts. And that is why the White House has been aggressively lobbying Senate Republicans to change Senate rules in a way that would hand dangerous new powers to the President over two separate branches – the Congress and the Judiciary.

Unfortunately, this is part of a disturbing pattern of behavior by this White House and Republicans in Washington. From Dick Cheney’s fight to slam the doors of the White House on the American people…

To the President’s refusal to cooperate with the 9-11 Commission… To Senate Republicans attempt to destroy the last check in Washington on Republican power…To the House Majority’s quest to silence the minority in the House…

Republicans have sought to destroy the balance of power in our government by grabbing power for the presidency, silencing the minority and weakening our democracy.

America does not work the way the radical right-wing dictates to President Bush and the Republican Senate Leaders. And Mr. President, that is not how the United States Senate works either.

For 200 years, we’ve had the right to extended debate. It’s not some “procedural gimmick.” It’s within the vision of the Founding Fathers of our country. They established a government so that no one person – and no single party – could have total control.

Some in this Chamber want to throw out 217 years of Senate history in the quest for absolute power.

They want to do away with Mr. Smith coming to Washington. They want to do away with the filibuster. They think they are wiser than our Founding Fathers.

I doubt that’s true.

Truth pouring from the mouth of Harry Reid; you don’t see that every day. And yesterday he threw it all away for a lie…the lie that Senate Republicans are blocking President Obama’s judicial appointments at an unprecedented rate. Here’s the truth:

According to a May report from the Congressional Research Service, President Obama had 71.4% of his circuit court nominees approved during his first term, which is slightly better than George W. Bush’s 67.3% level of success during his first term.

President Obama also didn’t fare the worst when it comes to district court nominees. During his first term, 82.7% of Obama’s district court nominees were approved, George H.W. Bush had 76.9% of his nominees approved.

And, for the record, Obama’s nominees are being confirmed in fewer days than Bush’s appointees.

But in recent years, it’s the amount of time it takes to get a nominee approved where the most radical change has taken place.

For example, during Reagan’s first term, it only took 45.5 days for one of his nominees to get approved. That number escalated only marginally over the next 20 years. But by the time George W. Bush was in office, the number skyrocketed to 277 days. Obama has fared slightly better than Bush, with his nominees taking 225.5 days to get approved. But historically speaking, it’s still a severe departure from most presidencies.

So, at the end of the day, Obama’s experience may not be quite as unique as he wants the public to believe. (Full article.)

 

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In Which Harry Reid Confirms He Can’t Play Nicely With Others.

Is that the face of a man who can get along with anyone?

Of course Harry Reid won’t work with a President Mitt Romney. Hell’s bells, he won’t even work with a President from his own party to pass a budget.

All this is assuming that Harry’s still the man at the top in the Senate after Tuesday next.

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Filed under 2012 Presidential Race, 2012 Senate Races

Stand By Your [Men]

Patty Murray is a faithful foot soldier of the Democrats. (I know that technically, she’s part of the Senate leadership, but you never really see or hear of her leading on anything so, yeah.) She votes with her party 96% of the time and while other Democrat incumbents are distancing themselves from the President and Obamacare, Murray was only too happy to welcome the President to Seattle (Twice! And Michelle! And the Veep!) to campaign on her behalf and even claim authorship of the health care abomination.

In fact, the Democrats are so confident that Patty will be standing by her men that they didn’t even feel a need to mention her in one of their last rally-the-voter e-mails. She reminds me of that girl who’ll do anything to win the guy but he can’t quite remember her name. So sad…I think she needs help.

Be a part of the intervention; vote for Dino Rossi.

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Filed under 2010 Senate Races, Barack Obama, Dino Rossi, Patty Murray

Polls: Angle vs. Reid; Rossi vs. Murray

Just out of curiosity.

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Filed under 2010 Senate Races, Dino Rossi, Patty Murray, Washington

Who’s Extreme?

Kirk, Rossi and Angle all now hold leads in their races. The GOP is trending up since this video was produced.

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Filed under 2010 Senate Races, Dino Rossi, Patty Murray

Ten Senate Seats Are Clearly Within Reach

For the first time this election cycle, Republican challengers are leading in ten Senate races in the latest polls.

In North Dakota, Republican John Hoeven leads Democrat Tracy Potter by 43%. (That’s actually trending down a bit!)

In Arkansas, Republican John Boozman leads Democrat incumbent, Blanche Lincoln by 18%.

In Indiana, Republican Dan Coats leads Democrat Brad Ellsworth by 18%.

In Wisconsin, Republican Ron Johnson leads Democrat incumbent, Russ Feingold by 12%.

In Pennsylvania, Republican Pat Toomey leads Democrat Joe Sestak by 7%.

In Colorado, Republican Ken Buck leads Democrat, Michael Bennet by 5%.

In West Virginia, Republican John Raese leads Democrat Joe Manchin by 5%.

In Illinois, Republican Mark Kirk leads Democrat Alexi Giannoulias by 4%.

In Nevada, Republican Sharron Angle leads Democrat incumbent and Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, by 3%.

In Washington, Republican Dino Rossi leads Democrat incumbent and the country’s most liberal Senator, Patty Murray, by 1%.

I thought earlier today about how good it felt when this happened. I literally wept with joy that day. This year could be even better.

That’s not to say we can count our chickens before they’re hatched. Election day is just under four weeks away and who knows what can happen, but at this point, things are trending in the right direction. Dig deeper; give until it hurts and work until you drop.

(H/T @dickmorristweet)

Update 1: The latest Rasmussen poll puts Sharron Angle up by 4%, right at the margin of error.

Update 2: The latest Rasmussen poll puts Dino Rossi up by 3%.

Update 3: The latest Rasmussen poll puts John Raese up by 6%.

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Rolling Out The Red Carpet For Harry Reid

Beleaguered Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, was in Seattle on Friday, April 9th, for a fund raising event.  Apparently he can’ suck enough campaign cash out of his own constituents and has to come hat-in-hand to Washington to suck cash out of Patty Murray’s.

The tab is $2,400 to be a “host” and $1,000 to be a guest at the event, officially sponsored by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

Reid and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., are both members of the Senate’s Democratic leadership, and both up for reelection this fall. Murray is, however, stressing the work she does in this Washington.

“Maria is hosting the event: I know I will be in Spokane,” Murray said on Tuesday.

I thought it was kind of odd that Reid would hold a fund raiser in Washington, when Patty Murray’s re-election may not be the shoo-in she was surely expecting. I know her comment sounded just a little snippy, and why not? Every dollar donated to Harry Reid is a dollar that can’t be donated to Patty Murray.

Did they roll out the red carpet and give Harry the key to the city?

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Filed under 2010 Senate Races, Patty Murray