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Harry Reid living and dying by Senate rules.

Friday, July 20, 2007  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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Posted by Generalissimo.

What a difference eight months make. Senator majority leader Harry Reid, still smarting from having his hat handed to him twelve hours earlier on the Senate floor by Mitch McConnell and the Republicans, opened the Friday session of the Senate by previewing coming events next week in the Senate. It was during his calendar talk on the Kennedy Student Loans and Grants Act that he noticed Utah Senator Robert Bennett also on the floor, and had this to say as an aside.

So we’re going to hopefully conclude this matter on Monday. If all the amendments aren’t offered, it would of course shorten the time, and the two managers are Senators Kennedy and Enzi, who did such a good job on the bill yesterday until they lost control of it with the rules we have here, which I hope, I see my friend here from, the distinguished junior Senator from Utah, I hope as one of the key members of the Rules Committee, the ranking member of the Rules Committee, you and Senator Feinstein will look at a way we can change these rules. What went on last night was ridiculous. There’s no way to stop that unless…as the time ran. And we should change those rules, and I think it could be done with the Rules Committee. We may have to take a look at that. It just doesn’t help anybody. So anyway, but that’s what happened. But it’s not going to be that way on this matter on Monday. As I said, Senator Kennedy and Enzi managed the bill very, very well until it ran into the rule that we have here that allows unending amendments on any subject forever, literally, before you can get final passage.

Harry Reid wants to change the rules of the Senate. How far back do you think we need to go to see if he’s consistent about the rules of the Senate?

From April of 2005, from the Senate Democrat’s press release on the web, then minority leader Reid said the following when discussing the potential Constitutional Option to change Senate rules in order to prevent judicial filibusters.

If they can’t get everything they want, they try to break the rules. Based on the facts, it is clear that this attempt to strip away important checks and balances in our government is not about judges. It is about the desire for absolute power, and Senate Democrats are proud to stand with over 1 million Americans against this attempt to change the rules.

You don’t even have to go back that far to hear how much Harry Reid cherished the rules of the Senate. From his own website, December 8th, 2006, Reid, applauding the Gang of 14 compromise deal on judicial filibusters, had this to say.

I emerged from the episode with a renewed appreciation for the majesty of the Senate rules. As Majority Leader, I intend to run the Senate with respect for the rules, and for the minority rights that the rules protect.

And this.

The need to muster 60 votes in order to terminate Senate debate naturally frustrates the majority. I’m sure it will frustrate me when I assume the office of the Majority Leader next year. But I recognize this requirement as a tool that serves the long-term interests of the Senate and of the American people.

And this.

To be sure, there are times when I will need to use the rules to advance the Democratic agenda. But I will not resort to the nuclear option or any other illegitimate manipulation of the rules. When it is time to limit debate we will do so within the rules, under the terms of Rule XXII.

And this.

It is often said that laws are “the system of wise restraints that set men free.” The same might be said of the Senate rules. I will do my part as Majority Leader to foster respect for the rules and traditions of our great institution.

Maybe Dianne Feinstein, the chair of the Senate Rules Committee will remind Mr. Reid of his previous position on the importance of Senate rules. And then again, maybe an oak tree might spontaneously sprout out of my left elbow. Somehow, I don’t expect either one to happen anytime soon.

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