For the second time this month a bipartisan agreement in the Senate has died because Senate Democrats under the leadership of Harry Reid (D-NV) have violated the ages-old rule allowing the minority party to offer amendments to bills under consideration.
On Thursday, May 15, Senate Republicans helped block an $84 billion tax cut over the elimination of their ability to offer amendments.
The vote on cloture failed to reach the 60-vote threshold with a final vote of 53-40.
One Republican, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), defected from his party’s ranks and voted with the Democrats. Seven senators did not participate in the vote, and Harry Reid himself voted “no” with the Republicans.
Republicans, of course, generally supported the tax cuts, but it was the baggage a “yes” vote would have come with that the GOP opposed.
“We have a tax bill here that members from both sides want to improve and support. Yet we don’t get a chance to amend it,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said before the final vote. “[Democrats] have turned the Senate into a graveyard of good ideas and good democratic debate.”
Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) agreed, saying, “Republicans are outraged that we’ve basically been frozen out of the process.” Another high-profile Republican, Lindsey Graham (R-SC), dismissively noted that “tax cuts come and go.” However, he added, “I want to be able to vote on this bill, but I’d also like to be able to vote on repealing the medical device tax.”
With his comments, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) criticized Harry Reid’s stewardship of the Senate. “It’s more important to assert our rights than to do anything else. I consider the way the Senate is being run right now to be an absolute tragedy. It’s inexcusable.”
As for Reid, he naturally attacked the GOP for their blocking maneuver.
“Republicans can’t take ‘yes’ for an answer,” Reid said, “they just voted against the second bipartisan bill in less than a week. That’s what just happened. The Republicans voted against tax cuts. So maybe the Republicans will hear from their friends down on K Street and around the country, and maybe they will learn this is pretty important to everybody.”
Since Reid voted against the tax cuts, too, one is forced to ask the obvious question: If the bill was so important, why did he vote against it?
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