There’s a new normal in the Senate–at least for now.
Democrats and Republicans came to an agreement on filibuster rules Tuesday morning, averting threats of a Harry Reid “nuclear option” (and the GOP ire that would have come with it), allowing most of the president’s nominations to proceed unobstructed. The deal’s bottom line is that Democrats will leave filibuster rules in place and Senate Republicans will confirm nominations of several Obama cabinet members. The deal is considered a win for the president. But while the nuclear option was averted this time, it remains on the table for future conflicts.
Majority Leader Harry Reid explained to Chris Hayes on Tuesday night that he needs to keep that option. “I have to have the ability to protect not only the Senate, but the country…Listen, they wanna filibuster, let them filibuster. And we’ll override those filibusters and if they get too out of hand, we’ll revisit all of these things again.” This is the third time the nuclear threat has been given in the past two and half years, but Reid felt comfortable saying that the three-plus hour long meeting in the Old Senate chambers on Monday night marked “a new norm” for the Senate.
Use of the nuclear option has been brought up twice before during Reid’s leadership. While an important tool to break through gridlock, the nature of D.C. politics means that as much as it can help, it can also hurt. “There’s recognition on both sides that the shoe can be on the other foot rather quickly and that people in the majority today will be in the minority tomorrow, and vice versa,” said Texas Republican John Cornyn. The GOP attempted to invoke this tactic in 2005.
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER OF NEVADA (D)
Harry Reid told his caucus in a Thursday meeting that he “ate shit on nominees” during the Bush administration, allowing votes on some pretty awful nominees when he was leading the minority, instead of leading filibusters. He says he did it because he thought it was the right thing to do after Bush won re-election, and because of the bipartisan Gang of 14 agreement. And look where we’re at today.
Reid reportedly also began that caucus meeting Thursday “by apologizing to his colleagues for cutting bipartisan deals to avert the nuclear option, including at the beginning of this year.”
But the siren song of a deal is always there, and Reid needs to resist it. He needs to remember—and remind his caucus continually—that they’ve been down that road too many times already, and it doesn’t work. He needs to fight any attempt in his caucus to splinter off into some “gang” that promises it will be different this time, really.
It’s time for Reid to finally do this. It’s time for him to force Republicans to either let the Senate function again, or lose their power to block the president’s nominees. Tell him so. [QUOTE]
“Be a Lion”
By JOHN KERR & ALBERT KLEINE
House Republicans reportedly plan to remove food stamp funding from the federal farm bill, a move that stands to further jeopardize the survival of the critical anti-poverty program. This move comes after years of right-wing media figures demonizing food stamp recipients as lazy or dependent, with Rush Limbaugh going so far as to propose dumpster diving as an alternative.
Here’s a look back at some of the most egregious right-wing attacks on food stamps
BY STEPHANIE CONDON
A comprehensive immigration reform bill passed with strong support in the Senate on Thursday, bringing Washington one step closer to accomplishing a major milestone that both Democrats and Republicans have long sought.
Now, however, the bill goes to the House, where, at best, it faces significant headwinds.
The measure passed 68 to 32, with Vice President Joe Biden presiding over the Senate chamber and the senators all casting their votes from their desks. Senators are rarely seated at their desks for votes — the largely symbolic move is typically reserved for confirming Supreme Court nominees or major votes, such as the 2010 Affordable Care Act vote or the 2011 resolution commending troops and the intelligence community for the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Fourteen Republicans joined 52 Democrats and two Independents in voting for the bill, including Sen. Jeffrey Chiesa, R-N.J., the Republican who was appointed to his seat this month after the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. No Democrats voted against the bill.
After the legislation passed, President Obama released a statement commending the Senate and urging the public to lobby the House to pass some version of the bill.
“As this process moves forward, I urge everyone who cares about this issue to keep a watchful eye,” he said. “Now is the time when opponents will try their hardest to pull this bipartisan effort apart so they can stop commonsense reform from becoming a reality. We cannot let that happen.”
AUSTIN, TEXASGov. Rick Perry on Wednesday called a second special session of the Texas Legislature to pass widespread abortion restrictions across the nation’s second-largest state, after the first attempt by Republicans died overnight following a marathon one-woman filibuster.
Perry ordered lawmakers to meet again on July 1 to act on the abortion proposals, as well as separate bills that would boost highway funding and deal with a juvenile justice issue. The sweeping abortion rules would close nearly all the state’s abortion clinics and impose other widespread restrictions.
Perry can call as many 30-day extra sessions as he likes, but lawmakers can only take up those issues he assigns.
The debate over abortion restrictions led to the most chaotic day in the Texas Legislature in modern history, starting with a marathon filibuster and ending with a down-to-the wire, frenetic vote marked by questions about whether Republicans tried to break chamber rules and jam the measure through.
Democrats put their hopes of thwarting the bill in the hands of Wendy Davis, a state senator clad in pink running shoes, for a daylong attempt to talk the bill to death. Over the duration of the speech, Davis became a social media star, even becoming the subject of a tweet from President Obama for her efforts.
But just before midnight, Republicans claimed she strayed off topic and got help with a back brace — two things that are against filibuster rules — and cut her off.
That cleared the way for a vote.