Harry Reid Dominates Senate Legislative Action

Image: Harry Reid Dominates Senate Legislative Action

Tuesday, 08 Jul 2014 08:09 AM

By Elliot Jager

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The U.S. Senate has been largely immobilized by partisan bickering and the only lawmaker who can get anything done is Majority Leader Harry Reid, according to The Washington Times.

Only 14 Senate bills have been enacted into law this year, the Times reported.

Reid has monopolized the legislative process. His position affords him the power to single-handedly "shape what gets done and what falls to the wayside in Washington," the newspaper said.

The majority leader determines what votes will be considered and what amendments will be permitted. The majority leader pushed through a third of all amendments proposed during 2014 while blocking Republicans from offering virtually any.

Republican Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell describes the situation as "disgraceful." Reid counters that the Republicans prefer to obstruct the legislative process and have forced him to rule with a strict hand.

"If that makes me too powerful, that's too bad," he told reporters. "The only reason that we're doing this is because for 5 1/2 years, everything that this president's tried to do, they've stepped in the way."

To hamstring GOP influence, he has lowered the threshold for ending a filibuster against presidential nominees.

Reid had been willing to allow a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline but withdrew the offer because Republicans insisted they wanted to add amendments that would block the administration from proceeding with coal-fired power plant regulations, according to the Times.

Republicans have sought votes that might embarrass politically vulnerable Democrats running for re-election in Republican-leaning states. Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter, for example, has been pushing for a vote that would deny congressional staffers subsidies to pay for their health coverage under Obamacare. The idea being, say Democrats, to show that they maintain a double standard when it comes to Obamacare, according to the Times.

Reid worries that even if he allowed Democrats to take unpopular votes, Republicans might block a bill's ultimate passage using a filibuster.

Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin said that too much power was concentrated with the majority and minority leaders.

"We need to have more focus on legislating, on committee structures [and] committee work. We need to work a full week. God, I understand people have got to get back to their districts and states, but is it too much to ask that we work from Monday noon to Friday noon? I don't think so. I don't think that's too much to ask," the Times reported.

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