Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid’s disdain for his Republican colleagues is on full display as he aims to force a vote on the nomination of Loretta Lynch as U.S. Attorney General. In fact, the former Majority Leader is threatening to hijack the Senate
“I know parliamentary procedure around here and we’re going to put up with this for a little while longer, but not much,” Reid said in an interview on MSNBC. “Absolutely we can force votes. If we don’t get something done soon, I will force a vote.”
The Huffington Post reports that Lynch’s nomination was delayed because it was “tied” to a “controversial” bill on combating human trafficking currently under consideration in the Senate.
Unsurprisingly, both those statements from HuffPo are untrue. The Lynch nomination is “tied” to the trafficking bill only to the extent that it is scheduled to take place after work on that legislation is completed. This is like saying Friday is “tied” to “Thursday.”
The trafficking bill is only controversial because Senate Democrats have united to push for changes in the bill that would erode decades-old federal policy on abortion funding.
The so-called “Hyde Amendment,” which has long been a feature of federal law, blocks federal money being spent to pay for abortions. Senate Democrats are demanding that the trafficking bill chip away at this, paying for abortions out of the federal fines and penalties assessed on those guilty of human trafficking.
Any controversy over the legislation was birthed and nurtured by Senate Democrats pushing extreme abortion policies. Were they to give up their demand, work on the bill would finish quickly and Lynch would have a vote on confirmation.
The Senate rulebook is a notorious alchemy of parliamentary procedures, precedents and the whims of individual Senators. That said, Reid could only “force” a vote if enough Republicans joined with him to give him majority votes.
Even Republicans ought to withstand Reid’s bullying on this issue.
Reid’s threats aren’t as much about getting a vote on Lynch as they are continuing to intimidate Senate Republicans in the public arena. Inexplicably, Republicans have largely avoided the public debate on the trafficking issue, giving Reid a free reign for his demagoguery.
November 2014 notwithstanding, the more things change, the more they stay the same.