Delay, Derail, Defeat
by Charles Lemos, Wed Oct 21, 2009 at 07:54:51 PM EDT
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.