Senate Democrats essentially shutdown voting in Senate to protect their members from any hard votes before the November election. From ABC News:
. . . With control of the Senate at risk in November, leaders are going to remarkable lengths to protect endangered Democrats from casting tough votes and to deny Republicans legislative victories in the midst of the campaign. The phobia means even bipartisan legislation to boost energy efficiency, manufacturing, sportsmen's rights and more could be scuttled.
The Senate's masters of process are finding a variety of ways to shut down debate.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., now is requiring an elusive 60-vote supermajority to deal with amendments to spending bills, instead of the usual simple majority, a step that makes it much more difficult to put politically sensitive matters into contention. This was a flip from his approach to Obama administration nominees, when he decided most could be moved ahead with a straight majority instead of the 60 votes needed before.
Reid's principal aim in setting the supermajority rule for spending amendments was to deny archrival Sen. Mitch McConnell a win on protecting his home state coal industry from new regulations limiting carbon emissions from existing power plants. McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, faces a tough re-election in Kentucky. . . .
"I just don't think they want their members to have to take any hard votes between now and November," said Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb. And there's "just no question that they're worried we're going to win some votes so they just shut us down."
Vote-a-phobia worsens in election years, especially when the majority party is in jeopardy. Republicans need to gain six seats to win control and Democrats must defend 21 seats to the Republicans' 15. . . .
Of course, for some Democrats this prevents them from developing any type of record to run on. From the WSJ:
No one has done more to protect Senate Democrats from difficult votes than Majority Leader Harry Reid, but a funny thing is happening as another election nears. His own vulnerable Members are griping about the lack of votes.
Alaska Sen. Mark Begich was elected in 2008 and hasn't been able to get a Senate vote on any of his proposed legislative amendments. For years he was silent but suddenly he's upset, telling Politico: "Does it mean increased risks? Sure. That's what voting is about." West Virginia's Joe Manchin complained to the Hill newspaper: "I've never been in a less productive time in my life than I am right now, in the United States Senate."
They're right about the numbers. Wyoming Republican John Barrasso recently noted on the floor that Senate Democrats proposed 676 amendments in the last year but were allowed votes on all of seven. Republicans proposed 812 and got votes on 11. Texas Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee has been allowed twice as many amendment votes (15) in the Republican House in the last year than Mr. Reid has allowed his entire Senate caucus. Not one of the nine Senate Democrats elected in 2012 has been granted a floor vote on any of their amendments. . . .
With this voting record, it is pretty hard for Begich to argue that his being in office is of much value.
Labels: 2014elections, Democrats