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Dirty Harry

Why are Republicans giving Reid a pass?

Sep 3, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 47 • By FRED BARNES
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Nor could White House press secretary Jay Carney. Instead, he noted that Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, and two other House Republicans on the Simpson-Bowles commission had voted against its budget recommendation. “The only way in modern-day Washington to achieve a significant budget compromise is when both parties are willing to work together,” he told Fox News.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who heads the Democratic National Committee, declared “it’s simply not true” that Reid had refused to send a Senate budget to the floor for a vote.

Barring a budget is but one of Reid’s breaches of normal Senate practice. He has cut back substantially on debate, once regarded as the greatest virtue of the Senate, and has done so with impunity. Media coverage has been almost nonexistent.

Reid has exploited a practice called “filling the tree” to limit sharply the number of Republican amendments to legislation, and thus curtail debate and floor votes. He’s triggered the rarely used procedure called the “nuclear option” to change Senate rules by a simple majority, further curbing Republican amendments on issues Democrats want to avoid. And he’s refused to bring up the defense authorization bill and appropriations bills.

Republican senators have complained in vain. “Do my colleagues not feel a responsibility to tell the American people what their financial plan for the future of America is?” Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the budget committee, asked on the Senate floor recently.

On August 2, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Reid “has set a historic pace for blocking amendments. No amendments in committee, no amendments on the floor, take it or leave it. That’s the story of the Senate under the current leadership.”

Reid is still basking in his reelection in Nevada in 2010. His Republican opponent was pathetically inept. But the press congratulated Reid for running a brilliant campaign. Esquire magazine devoted 5,000 words to an adoring article on Reid. It was written by the coauthor of Reid’s 2008 book, The Good Fight.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

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