Today, the Senate takes up legislation to reauthorize FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The law allows the government to conduct wiretaps without a warrant in certain limited cases. This article is not about this law. It is about how, with only four days until we go over the "fiscal cliff", Sen. Reid is consuming the Senate's time on legislation that isn't pressing. He is not serious about averting the cliff.
One week ago, the House failed to move its "Plan B" proposal, a legislative opening-bid in the "cliff" talks. Since that time, the talks have fallen into posturing. Reid hasn't proposed even general outlines of a compromise deal. This morning, Sen. Reid took to the Senate floor and focused blame for the failure of the talks squarely on Speaker Boehner. It was a clear indication that the Senate has no plans to move any kind of deal to avert the "cliff."
This isn't surprising, because Senator Reid hasn't engaged in any negotiations to secure a deal. When Obama has floated certain compromises with the GOP, members of Reid's caucus have quickly shot them down in the press. I've long thought that the Democrats wanted to go over the cliff, and Reid's actions certainly reenforce that.
Obama is, of course, the titular head of the Democrat party. But, Sen. Reid always controls the parameters of any legislation passing his chamber. Obama pitches broad themes to the public, but Sen. Reid orchestrates the details. Obama simply arrives for the bill signing.
Sen. Reid has failed to pass a budget throughout Obama's first term. Now, he has failed to do anything to avert the "cliff" on Monday. But, he has found time to debate amendments to unrelated legislation.