Reid’s dic­ta­to­rial style draws ire

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

Fed up with what they see as dic­ta­to­rial be­hav­ior by Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid, Repub­li­cans on Mon­day fil­i­bus­tered to block an en­ergy ef­fi­ciency bill, doom­ing it to de­feat for a sec­ond time in less than a year and sig­nal­ing just how bad re­la­tions have got­ten in the up­per cham­ber.

Democrats fell four votes shy of the 60 needed to over­come the fil­i­buster, with sev­eral of their own mem­bers ab­sent and win­ning just three Repub­li­cans’ sup­port.

“It’s a shame that all the hard work that’s gone into this ended ba­si­cally in a draw tonight,” said Sen. Mary L. Lan­drieu, Louisiana Demo­crat and chair­woman of the Se­nate En­ergy Com­mit­tee, who was un­able to shepherd the bill through the po­lit­i­cal mine­field that the Se­nate floor has be­come.

The en­ergy bill would have pushed for stricter ef­fi­ciency stan­dards in federal build­ings, and would have of­fered in­cen­tives for businesses and homes to mod­ern­ize in en­ergy-sav­ing ways.

It had broad sup­port from both par­ties but, like so many other bills in the last few years, it fell vic­tim to Repub­li­cans’ de­sire to have a more free­wheel­ing de­bate than Mr. Reid, who is try­ing to keep a tight han­dle on floor de­bates, was will­ing to see.

Sen. Rob Port­man, an Ohio Repub­li­can who co-spon­sored the en­ergy bill and was one of the three Repub­li­cans who voted with Democrats to over­come the fil­i­buster, sounded an ex­as­per­ated note af­ter­ward, call­ing the de­feat “yet an­other dis­ap­point­ing ex­am­ple of Wash­ing­ton’s dys­func­tion.”

Repub­li­cans lead­ers said they wanted to be able to pick five amend­ments, all en­ergy-re­lated, to of­fer on the bill. But Mr. Reid re­fused, say­ing he had agreed to hold a stand-alone vote later on a bill to build the Key­stone XL pipe­line, but not on a hand­ful of other amend­ments.

He said the GOP was break­ing an agree­ment.

“Repub­li­can ob­struc­tion is bring­ing the Se­nate to its knees again and again and again,” Mr. Reid said.

But Repub­li­cans took a dif­fer­ent les­son from the back-and-forth. They viewed the fight as an­other chance to try to break Mr. Reid’s firm con­trol of the cham­ber, which the Ne­vada Demo­crat uses to de­cide which amend­ments he will al­low to come up for votes.

“Let the amend­ments be of­fered. That’s what the Se­nate’s about,” said Sen. Jeff Flake, Ari­zona Repub­li­can.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell’s of­fice has crunched the num­bers and con­cluded that July was the last time Mr. Reid al­lowed a some­what free­wheel­ing de­bate.

In the 10 months since, the GOP has been given just eight roll call votes on its own amend­ments. By com­par­i­son, Repub­li­cans in the House have al­lowed roll call votes on 125 Demo­cratic amend­ments, ac­cord­ing to Mr. McCon­nell’s count.

But Democrats, who con­trol the cham­ber, said they’d al­ready made ma­jor con­ces­sions by agree­ing to al­low an even­tual vote on build­ing the Key­stone pipe­line, which would bring oil from Canada’s tar sands to the U.S.

Pres­i­dent Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has re­peat­edly de­layed a fi­nal de­ci­sion on build­ing the Key­stone pipe­line, de­spite pres­sure from some of his own union al­lies.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid’s re­fusal to al­low a free­wheel­ing Se­nate floor de­bate on the en­ergy ef­fi­ciency bill re­sulted in a Repub­li­can fil­i­buster that doomed the bill to de­feat for the sec­ond time in less than a year.

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