Delay, Derail, Defeat

In a story over at Politics Daily about the failure in the Senate tonight to proceed on a bill to increase Medicare payments to doctors at a cost of $247 billion over 10 years, there is this tidbit:

Senate procedures give Republicans an array of tactical maneuvers that they have used to delay, if not derail, Reid's agenda. While the House has passed all 13 of its appropriations bills, climate change, and health care bills (at the committee level), the Senate schedule has lagged. When House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was asked Tuesday why the House schedule was so light, he said that the Senate has not sent back enough legislation for the House to respond to.

As Republicans have succeeded in stalling votes, Reid's statements have escalated from terse to downright angry. Last week he accused Republicans of trying to kill health care reform, saying, "Republicans will do everything in their power to stop reform this time." When asked Tuesday why the Senate had not passed an extension of unemployment insurance benefits, Reid responded, "The word starts with an R.' Republicans. Republicans."

On Wednesday, Reid said the entire Senate agenda was falling prey to the GOP of past and present.

"I think it's too bad that suddenly, (Republicans) have gotten religion," Reid said after the vote, visibly frustrated. "They never worried in the past about all these tax cuts being paid for. They never worried about the drug manufacturers getting all the free stuff they got. They never worried about any of this. They suddenly are being very frugal, very frugal when they've figured out it's a way to slow down what we do here."

Even with 60 Democrtic votes, veteran political watchers acknowledge that Reid's task of holding together his unwieldy caucus is difficult, if not impossible. "It's difficult to move things in the Senate," Hoyer said. "I think Reid has the most frustrating job in American government."

How is it that the nation is being held hostage by a caucus of forty?

Nor is it terribly reassuring that the Majority Leader can't keep his own caucus in line. A dozen Democrats and one independent crossed party lines and voted with the Republicans on the 53 to 47 roll call. The Democrats who voted against the party leadership were Senators Evan Bayh of Indiana, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Bryon Dorgan of North Dakota, Jon Tester of Montana, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Bill Nelson of Florida, Mark Warner of Virginia, Jim Webb of Virginia, Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Ron Wyden of Oregon. Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut also joined the GOP in defeating the measure.

Still it is more concerning that the Democrats are being outwitted tactically by Senator Mitch McConnell.

Tags: Medicare, Senator Harry Reid, US Senate (all tags)



Re: Delay, Derail, Defeat

Part of the problem is the spectrum of Democrats in the Senate ranges from Ben Nelson to Al Franken.  But just as much of the problem is Harry Reid.  He is just too weak and doesn't know how to fight.  That's why I'm not optimistic on health care passing before next summer (if at all).

I'm rooting for Reid's defeat next year.  But until someone is capable of uniting the Democratic caucus, the master obstructor, McConnell is going call most of the shots.

It's passivity from Reid (and to some extent Obama) that's causing this.

by esconded 2009-10-21 08:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Delay, Derail, Defeat

I agree with you that Reid and Obama are the problem, but not that it's passivity....I think it's more about a failure and absence of leadership. I'm sure both men are passionate about what they believe, and about various parts of the Democratic agenda. But neither man is really a leader....leadership requires a willingness to assume power, and to use it. One can ba a good legislator, and still be totally unable to lead people.

George Mitchell was the last really effective Majority Leader. He wasn't a screamer or a ball-buster, but he knew how to influence people, and to mobilize them behind legislation and ideas.

by BJJ Fighter 2009-10-21 08:54PM | 0 recs
I agree here

Obama and Reid both need to go sooner rather than later.  They are both damaging this party beyond the repair.  

by Kent 2009-10-21 11:01PM | 0 recs

Right... it will be far better for our party to lose Harry Reid and then two years later to lose the Presidency.

The truth of the matter is this. In the Senate it is a very easy task to stall legislation and it is even easier when you have Democrats who really aren't. Harry Reid needs to do more to hold the caucus together, but there is only so much he can do at this point. As for Obama- how exactly does he have any control over the Senate?

by JDF 2009-10-22 03:48AM | 0 recs
Obama Has a LOT of Control!

Obama: "Senator. You'd like that highway bill to include funds for North Dakota wouldn't you? I hear that North Dakota's economy is suffering and this would mean some 1200 jobs."

Sen Conrad: "Yes Mr. President, we surely would like that."

Obama: "And Senator, wouldn't you like the chance to travel with me on my next trip to the Middle-East? We could appear together and I'd say something nice in front of the cameras for the local TV back home, about your leadership ability. Wouldn't hurt to have the folks back home thinking about how influential you are."

Sen. Conrad: "Yes sir. That certainly couldn't hurt."

Obama: "And there's that federal judgeship you want me to consider for that friend of yours from N.D., right?"

Sen. Conrad: "Yes. Sir. I'm hoping there won't be any hold-up on that."

Obama: "Well, Senator, it's tough to get things done these days. I'd hate for anything to accidentally happen to that junket of ours and that federal highway project might just get stalled in the Commerce Department. You can never tell these things."

Sen. Conrad: "Mr. President. What are you saying."

Obama: "I'm just saying, Senator, that you have a nice little state up there. Would be a shame if something was to happen to it. Accidental, like."

Sen. Conrad: "Surely there's no chance of that?"

Obama: "Well now, that depends, Senator. If you felt yourself able to support me on the health care bill, I might be able to stretch a point on getting those highway project moved out of Commerce. And that federal judgeship. I hear that candidate of yours is a fine person.

But, you know, It'd be tough if you were the one to defeat my signature agenda in the Senate. I don't see how I could help North Dakota like I would want to if that happened."

Sen. Conrad: "What about doubling the medicare reimbursement rates for small states like mine, Mr. President?"

Obama: "Well, Senator, there's no reason why I couldn't lend my support to something like that. Tell you what. If I could count on your support, I could have a word with Harry and Nancy and let them know how important increasing the medicare reimbursement rates is to me."

Sen. Conrad: "Gee. That'd be great Mr. President."

You get the picture.

by Cugel 2009-10-22 05:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Delay, Derail, Defeat

If Democrats dont get healthcare reform at all, they will lose both the House and Senate and Mitch McConnell will be Senate majority leader.  And there is no way in hell healthcare reform will pass in the summer.  If Democrats wait any longer than Christmas, any reform is dead for a generation anbd so are Democrats.  

by Kent 2009-10-21 10:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Delay, Derail, Defeat

You are rediculous.

by lojasmo 2009-10-22 04:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Delay, Derail, Defeat

Kent is right.  Some people here are way too young to remember the Clinton debacle.  No one is going to touch this issue again with a 10 foot pole considering how politically damaging it has been this year.

by LordMike 2009-10-22 07:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Delay, Derail, Defeat

Finally, someone who gets it.  If Democrats fail on this again, they will not be able to just come back and start again.  They will likely have lost Congress again and simply wont touch the issue again for another 20 years.  

by Kent 2009-10-22 11:11AM | 0 recs
That Would Depend!

It would depend on which Democrats get elected in 2010 and 2012. If we could elect more Progressives, then losing a few conservatives from Red states wouldn't be fatal. It might even push Democrats to adopt the nuclear option if they want to get anything passed.

It's unlikely that Republicans would regain control of the Senate in 2010, but it WOULD mean more Democrats (definitely including Reid) would lose their seats.

Reid's chances are riding on this. And you have to think he knows it. He's getting very angry with Republican obstructionism.

2012 is going to depend a LOT on the state of the economy. Will there be job recovery by then?

If not, then not only Congressional Dems but Obama will be in serious trouble.

by Cugel 2009-10-22 05:27PM | 0 recs
Re: That Would Depend!

We are not going to get any more Progressive Democrats elected in 2010.  We have as many as we are ever going to get.  Even if Obama somehow manages to get reelection in 2012, he will likely be faced with a Republican Congress.  

by Kent 2009-10-22 06:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Delay, Derail, Defeat

Bah! First off the Medicare payment fix is just not a big issue. With the government takling a recession, health care reform and a host of other priorities, a 10 yr 'fix' for medicare reimbursement rate (promised to the AMA as a bribe to support HCR) is not something to waste political capital on.

A 1 yr fix will be voted on and will pass (what other choice do they have?), but the permanent fix can wait till next year or the year after. Esp as there is no way to fund it at present.

That's the issue in a nutshell.

by vecky 2009-10-22 12:24AM | 0 recs

No one has told me why I should care. So some Democrats didn't go along when you wanted to borrow a few hundred billion dollars and give it to doctors. Boo hoo. Let the AMA deliver the Republican votes if they want it so much.  

by John DE 2009-10-22 07:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Delay, Derail, Defeat

How is it that Harry Reid let this bill come to the floor without counting votes first? 47? Someone is not doing their job.

by thinman 2009-10-22 04:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Delay, Derail, Defeat

The AMA supposedly told Reid that they would deliver 27 Republican votes.  Reid stupidly believed them.  The result was zero votes.

At least that's what Reid said... this could have also been done on purpose to prove to the AMA that "we tried" and make them turn against their republican friends.  It seems incredulous to me that they wouldn't know who was or was not voting for the bill.  The Senate is very good at counting these things, unlike the house.

by LordMike 2009-10-22 08:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Delay, Derail, Defeat

What I want to know is why weren't the Democrats using these tactics for 8 years to stop at least the worst of the Bush agenda?

by orestes 2009-10-22 06:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Delay, Derail, Defeat

there has to be something "wrong" with the bill. It's just too odd that Feingold and Nelson would both vote against it - they rarely agree. I'd be curious to know why a Feingold, Maccaskill, Byrd or Webb would be voting against this....

by nikkid 2009-10-22 06:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Delay, Derail, Defeat

McCaskill votes with the Republicans on a fairly regular basis. So this is not surprising. In fact, she often proudly declares she is not a standard Democrat and trots out her bipartisan creds at every opportunity.

The only time she sings a different tune is when she is soliciting contributions. Then she suddenly becomes a proud Democrat and the Republicans are evil, I say, evil.  

by MOBlue 2009-10-22 07:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Delay, Derail, Defeat

I realize there is a larger point here, and it is astounding how Reid allows the republicans to delay everything when McConnell was able to push through anything he wants.

But on this particular bill, I have to say I'm with Russ Feingold. It's an attempt to score the SFC bill as costing less than the house public option bills -- the house bills include the cost of this fix for 10 years; the SFC committee bill pretends that cost doesn't exist by playing accounting games (which includes this legislation).

Let's have some transparency, please.

by fsm 2009-10-22 06:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Once again

I feel obliged to apologize for the actions of my Senator, Bill Nelson of Florida, who consistently aggravates the living hell out of me.

by QTG 2009-10-22 07:30AM | 0 recs


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