February 14, 2014

WELL, AT LEAST THEY’RE INCREASINGLY ASHAMED. THAT’S SOME PROGRESS: Transparency: Senators’ Debt Limit Votes Kept Off Microphones; Reporters Protest.

On an average day, any C-SPAN viewer would know how senators voted in real time because votes are read aloud. (See our post on the six senators who appear to have changed their votes.)

But on Wednesday, the clerks did not name names. Instead of announcing the rolling vote tally as the vote went along on the critical motion to limit debate on the debt limit measure, senators were allowed to cast their votes in relative secrecy. Overlooked at the time, it has since caught the attention of numerous reporters.

After organizations representing journalists complained and a few hours after this story was published, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s spokesman Adam Jentleson gave CQ Roll Call a statement explaining the switch.

“After the vote began, it was quickly clear that Republican leaders were struggling to deliver enough votes to clear the 60-vote hurdle upon which they had insisted instead of a simple majority, and a potentially catastrophic default suddenly seemed possible. At Senate Republicans’ request, the clerk did not call the names during the vote to make it easier for Republican leaders to convince their members to switch their votes,” he said.

Jentleson said the request ”is consistent with Senate rules.”

“Senator Reid believed that protecting the full faith and credit of the United States and avoiding a default that could have disastrous consequences for anyone with a bank account were the most important objectives. For this reason and as a courtesy to his Republican colleagues, he consented to Republicans’ request,” Jentleson continued.

Well, they should be ashamed.