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GOP to Reid: We’ll See Your ‘Fill the Tree’ with a Filibuster

McConnell: “It’s about protecting the right of the American people to have a say in what goes on in Washington."

by
Bill Straub

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May 22, 2014 - 10:14 am
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WASHINGTON – Senate Republicans are employing a new tactic to force floor votes on some of their priorities – blocking floor debate on legislation most caucus members support.

Twice last week Republicans filibustered measures after Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada, refused to offer opportunities for GOP amendments.

The filibuster deprived the measures the 60 votes needed to bring them up for debate. Republicans refused to okay consideration of bipartisan energy efficiency legislation sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), expected to create almost 200,000 jobs. And they stood in the way of an $85 billion package that reauthorizes 50 tax breaks that expired at the end of 2013, including breaks for research and development, mortgage forgiveness and the deductibility of state and local sales taxes.

In both cases Republicans sought to offer amendments. The GOP wants to offer language to the Portman-Shaheen energy bill that would clear the way for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline intended to transport oil from Northern Canada to refineries in the U.S. And they want further consideration of their tax ideas, including repeal of a tax on medical devices instituted as part of the Affordable Care Act and the removal of a wind production tax credit from the bill. The measure had Republican support when it moved out of the Senate Finance Committee.

In each instance Reid, who controls the flow of legislation to the floor, moved to “fill the tree.” The Senate majority leader, Reid in this case, is recognized first when offering amendments on legislation. Majority leaders fill the tree by introducing amendments that block other senators from offering further amendments.

Depending on the legislation, one of four trees may be used. The first tree has room for three amendments, the second and third trees have room for five amendments and the fourth tree has room for 11. In filling the tree, the leader offers mostly placeholder amendments, leaving no slots available for anyone else’s amendment.

After filling the tree on the energy legislation, Reid offered to permit the GOP to offer the Keystone XL pipeline construction as a standalone bill but that was rejected – the measure likely would pass but would then face an insurmountable veto from President Obama.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, said his caucus took the unorthodox action of blocking bills it supports because Democrats have turned the Senate into a “graveyard of good ideas.”

“They’re completely allergic to anything constructive,” McConnell said. “They’re muzzling the people of this country — a gag order on the people we were sent here to represent — all to protect their power.”

McConnell called the situation “a scandal” and asserted that the public must be made aware of the situation because “this is bigger than any one bill.”

“It’s about protecting the right of the American people to have a say in what goes on in Washington,” McConnell said. “It’s about protecting the one institution that guarantees they’re heard. It’s about a party that’s become so afraid of losing its hold on power that they’re willing to do just about anything to hold onto it — even if it means rewriting the Bill of Rights, even if it means destroying this body, because that’s exactly what they’re doing.”

McConnell’s maneuver carries the support of other Republicans. Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) noted that over the past 10 months Reid has allowed just nine roll call votes on Republican amendments.

“Hoosiers sent me to Washington to be their voice and right now that voice is being shut down,” Coats said.

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Top Rated Comments   
What kind of jobs are these 200,000 jobs? How do you create jobs with laws? The government's general idea of creating jobs is to hire 100 people to go around breaking people's windows, 200 people to replace broken windows, a law which says that only those 200 people can replace broken windows, and 300 bureaucrats to fine anyone who doesn't replace their broken windows or has them replaced by anyone other than the designated 200 people.

Those aren't real jobs.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yawn. Kabuki theater. Who's doing anything today, to stop the leviathan? Anyone?
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Glad to see the GOP fight back. Either Reid gives in, or allows the Senate to simply shut down (hey, that's not a bad outcome!) ... or Reid could retaliate by going "full nuclear" and end all filibusters including legislation and Supreme Court nominations. Which of course would be the worst possible outcome for Dems should they find themselves outside of the majority after the November election.

Seems like a win-win-win for the GOP.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (10)
All Comments   (10)
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Yawn. Kabuki theater. Who's doing anything today, to stop the leviathan? Anyone?
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
I saw a protest downtown calling for Obama's impeachment...
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Glad to hear that! I just wish our national gop "leadership" would get off their butts.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, worse by far than kabuki, which at least has a moral center.

Note we're now expected to swallow the idea that McConnell is the solution to what ails us, the knight in shining armor to triumph on behalf of us all. Well, bite my ankle. He'll get the GOP dolt vote, no doubt, but the rest of the electorate will wince and walk away.
Adios GOP.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Repost Viral:
STEP DOWN MR OBAMA !
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Glad to see the GOP fight back. Either Reid gives in, or allows the Senate to simply shut down (hey, that's not a bad outcome!) ... or Reid could retaliate by going "full nuclear" and end all filibusters including legislation and Supreme Court nominations. Which of course would be the worst possible outcome for Dems should they find themselves outside of the majority after the November election.

Seems like a win-win-win for the GOP.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
I generally agree. My only concern is that Reid goes with the approach of GOP obstructionists preventing a bill which is estimated to create 200,000 jobs and plastering that on the news 24/7, during the general election this year.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sure - you can bet on that. But I don't think it's really going to matter very much in this year's election, since the GOP takes over the Senate if we simply win in the red states that aren't going to listen to Dem arguments at all. Any additional seats we pick up in purple states (like VA and MI) or blue states (like OR) are only icing on the cake.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
What kind of jobs are these 200,000 jobs? How do you create jobs with laws? The government's general idea of creating jobs is to hire 100 people to go around breaking people's windows, 200 people to replace broken windows, a law which says that only those 200 people can replace broken windows, and 300 bureaucrats to fine anyone who doesn't replace their broken windows or has them replaced by anyone other than the designated 200 people.

Those aren't real jobs.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
I know, but the media doesn't need real numbers to spin the news how they want it.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
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