The Spectacle Blog

Harry Reid’s Monolithic Control

By on 7.8.14 | 3:29PM

If obstinacy is the name of the game, then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is the world’s best player. Stubborn and unwilling to compromise on any legislation, Reid’s inflexibility towards anything not from his office is setting new records, according to a piece in the Washington Times:

Just 14 Senate bills have been signed into law so far this year. That’s nine fewer than at the same point in 2013, which itself is the most futile completed year on record, according to The Washington Times’ Legislative Futility Index.

Can you hear that Republican obstructionism talking point crumbling? The Senate has a fifty-three-to-forty-five Democratic majority with two independents caucusing with the Democrats, giving them fifty-five votes. Most of what the Senate does these days involves amendments filed by Harry Reid:

The average over the 25 years or so before Mr. Reid took office was slightly more than 2 percent. Former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker, who passed away late last month, actually averaged less than 1 percent during his four-year tenure.

Mr. Reid’s numbers are just the opposite: In 2007, his first year as leader, he accounted for 3.2 percent of amendments. That jumped to 12.4 percent in 2008, 5.3 percent in 2009, 19.3 percent in 2010, 14.2 percent in 2011, 18.4 percent in 2012, 12.8 percent in 2013 and a stunning 33.6 percent so far this year.

According to the report, Reid’s average was initially closer to 40 percent, but then His Majesty allowed more amendments from other members. When asked about his unseemly high numbers, the Times says that he was unapologetic: “If that makes me too powerful, that’s too bad,” he told reporters earlier this year. “The only reason that we’re doing this is because for 5 1/2 years, everything that this president’s tried to do, they’ve stepped in the way.”

Et tu Brute? Reid works for the people, not the president, nor his fellow senators, as former majority leader Trent Lott stated:

You also have to be prepared to let grown men and women cast votes on amendments...Some of them may be unpleasant, but you get six-year terms in the U.S. Senate, and you cannot always shield your party members in the Senate from a tough vote.

It seems that Reid, who has a penchant for attacking private citizens and passing along unsubstantiated rumors about Mitt Romney, has become full of himself and his own power. Even with his flippant dismissal of his death grip on the Senate, the Democrats still point fingers at Republicans:

Sen. Christopher Murphy, Connecticut Democrat, said a number of his colleagues have talked with Mr. Reid about having a more open floor process. But he too said much of the onus lies on the GOP.

Actually, as with most governments, the ones in power are responsible for moving legislation along. But let's not let facts get in the way of a 2016 talking point. Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, is quoted saying:

We need to work a full week. God, I understand people have got to get back to their districts and states, but is it too much to ask that we work from Monday noon to Friday noon? I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

We need a change in leadership so the Senate can get back to work.

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