As you may know, last week  Leaders Reid and McConnell had a lenghty exchange on the floor regarding Leader Reid’s statement that if he is the Majority Leader next Congress he will change the rules of the Senate with respect to cloture on the motion to proceed.  I’ve pasted the video as well as excerpts from the exchange and the full transcript below.

http://youtu.be/_jjSws-CP7U

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SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “A motion to proceed to something–that has taken over the Senate and it needs to go away. We should not have to do that anymore.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.5097, 7/18/12)

·         REID: “The rules have to be changed. I acknowledge that, and I don’t apologize for it for 1 second.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.5096, 7/18/12)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): “He has a unique role in this institution. He has the opportunity to set the agenda, and just because all 100 Senators do not immediately fall into line–and it may be a little bit difficult to go forward–is no excuse for not doing the important and basic work the American people sent us to do.” (Sen. McConnell, Congressional Record, S.5097, 7/18/12)

·         MCCONNELL: “…quit blaming everybody else. It is not the House; it is not the Senate; it is not the motion to proceed. Why don’t we operate the way we used to under leaders of both parties and understand that amendments we don’t like are just part of the process because everybody here doesn’t agree on everything?” (Sen. McConnell, Congressional Record, S.5095, 7/18/12)

·         MCCONNELL: “The core problem here is that my good friend the majority leader as a practical matter is running the whole Senate because everything is centralized in his office, which diminishes the opportunity for Senators of both parties to represent their constituents. Look, we all were sent here by different Americans who expected us to have a voice, to have an opportunity to effect legislation. I would say to my good friend the majority leader, we don’t have a rules problem, we have an attitude problem. When is the Senate going to get back to normal? I can recall my friends on the other side saying repeatedly that the difference between the House and Senate is you get to vote…”(Sen. McConnell, Congressional Record, S.5095, 7/18/12

MCCONNELL: “I indicated to the Majority Leader before the Senate convened today I wanted to have a discussion, the two of us on several items. Number one, understand my friend the Majority Leader last night on MSNBC said it was his intention at the beginning of the next congress if the Democrats were in the majority to change the rules of the Senate by a simple majority. I wanted to begin by asking my friend the Majority Leader if his comments at the beginning of this Congress on January 27, 2011, are no longer operative. At that time my friend the Majority Leader said, ‘I agree that the proper way to change national Senate rules is through the procedures established in those rules and I will oppose any effort in this Congress or the next to change the Senate’s rules other than through the regular order.’ So my first question of my friend the Majority Leader is, is that statement no longer operative?”

REID: “Madam President, through the Chair, to my friend, the Republican Leader, as I’ve said here on the floor, I believe that what took place at the beginning of this Congress was something — was very important for this body. Led by senator Udall from New Mexico and Senator Merkley from Oregon. They had been here a while and they thought that the Senate was dysfunctional. Well, they hadn’t been here a long time and I was willing to go along with the traditional view, let’s not rock the vote here. That was under the hope and I thought the assurance of my Republican colleagues that they would not have these continual nonsensical motions to proceed, filibuster, taking — through that finally on a piece of legislation and said in the Senate a few months ago that I was wrong. It’s hard to acknowledge that you’re wrong. It’s difficult for any of us to do, especially in front of so many people. But I said that they think they were right and I was wrong. And I stick by that. I think what has happened the last few years of changing the basic rules of this Senate where we have not 50 votes to pass something but takes 60 on everything, I think that’s wrong. I think that where — we waste weeks and weeks on motions to proceed and I had a conversation with a real traditionalist last evening, Carl Levin, Senator from Michigan, where we talked about this at some length. He acknowledges that the motion to proceed is a real problem here. He disagrees with me and someone I have to talk with him personally but that’s the way I understood him but I am convinced unless there is an agreement to change how we focus on the motion to proceed and I’ll try to end this quickly because I think the Leader deserves a full explanation. The filibuster was originally devised, it’s not in the Constitution, it was devised to help legislation get passed. That’s the reason they changed the rules here to do that. Now it’s being used to stop legislation from passing and we have to change things because this place is becoming inoperative.” 

MCCONNELL: “Madam President, I hear my friend the Majority Leader that his commitment at the beginning of this Congress that we would not follow the regular order to change the rules of the Senate is no longer operative. So let me turn to second area. We both agree that the advantage of being in the majority, the principal advantage is you get to schedule legislation. And of course there are a number of things that can be done with a simple majority of 51. And I would ask my friend the Majority Leader why it’s his view that Republicans have somehow prevented the Senate from passing a budget which could have been done with a mere 51 votes any time during the last three years.”

REID: “Madam president, that’s an easy question to answer. We already have a budget. We passed in August of last year a budget that took effect for the last fiscal year and this fiscal year. It set numbers through — 302-b numbers in effect. So there was no need for a budget this year, we already had one. So the hue and cry of my republican friends we need a budget is just a lot of talk. We already have a budget.”

MCCONNELL: “I know the Parliamentarian disagrees with his view that we already have a budget, but let’s just assume for the sake of discussion, that we do have a budget and by ask my friend the Majority Leader why we haven’t passed a single appropriation bill?”

Continued on the video…..

Joe Otto

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