In 2005, Republicans controlled the White House, Senate and the House. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) was the Senate Minority Leader for the 109th Congress. Republicans at the time wanted to change the Senate rules concerning filibusters, but Reid was adamantly opposed to changing the Senate rules. He claimed that the rule change was nothing more than partisan politics that would give the Republicans more control over Senate proceedings.
In fact, Reid said he was against any Senate rule changes. In 2005, Reid stated:
“Not only is there a suggestion about changing the rules, but they are going to do it by breaking the rules. To change a rule here in the Senate takes a simple majority. But if somebody wants to speak in an extensive manner relating to that rule change, you have to break a filibuster. They are not willing to do that. They are going to use brute force and break the rules to change the rules. That is what they are talking about.”
“One of the good things about this institution we have found in the 214 years it has been in existence is that the filibuster, which has been in existence since the beginning, from the days of George Washington—we have changed the rules as relates [sic] to it a little bit but never by breaking the rules. I say to my distinguished friend, the senior Senator from Illinois, in all the political writings about filibuster, that is one of the things they talk about as a positive. It forces people to get together because sometimes in this body you become very fixed.”
Earlier this year, Reid wanted to change the Senate rules on filibusters to give him and Democrats the advantage over their opponents. Forgetting his own words from 2005, in January of this year, Reid made the following three rule change proposals:
- Make it easier for one party to pass legislation, even if half the Senate disagrees: To stop debate on a contentious issue, 60 votes are now required. But the proposal being floated would create a way for the Majority Leader to pass any proposal with only 51 votes.
- Create four “Super Senators” who hold the true power: Only four Senators would be able to offer amendments to legislation, effectively shutting out the other 96 from the legislative process.
- Special power for the Majority Leader: The Majority Leader (now Reid) would have the special authority to add an amendment after debate is finished on a particular bill. Combined with the 51-vote threshold, this change would allow the Majority Leader to jam through just about anything without the Senate even debating it.
Now, Reid is once again pushing for the same Senate rule changes to stop Republicans from being able to do anything.
The key rule change he is after is changing the 60 votes required to end a debate to 51 votes. This is very important because at the moment, there are 52 Democrats, 2 Independents who usually vote Democratic and only 46 Republicans. At stake are a number of controversial appointments made by President Obama that the Democrats are trying to push through but Republicans have been blocking or stalling. Some of those appointments involve the National Labor Relations Board. Currently, the following appointments waiting for Senate approval:
- Richard Cordray to be Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Richard F. Griffin to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board
- Sharon Block to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board
- Fred Hochberg to be President of the Export-Import Bank
- Mark Gaston Pearce to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board
- Thomas Perez to be Secretary of Labor
- Regina McCarthy to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
If Reid gets his rule changes, Republicans would be completely helpless to stop any debate or any of Obama’s appointments. When the tides were turned in 2005, Reid was adamantly opposed to the rule changes, but now that he is the Senate Majority Leader, he basically wants to be the dictator of the Senate. What was bad for Harry Reid and the Democrats in 2005 is now embraced as good and necessary for Harry Reid and the Democrats.
But hey, Reid has said that Republicans can avoid the rule changes. All they have to do is confirm all seven appointees and he won’t push for the rule changes. Is this blackmail or extortion? Either way, it’s unethical and extremely hypocritical from his former views.
And don’t forget that Harry Reid is one the loudest people in Washington DC accusing the Republicans of not wanting to work together for the better good of the country. He accuses the GOP of being very partisan and unwilling to compromise, but don’t forget that it was Reid who refused to entertain 11 jobs bills that were sent to the Senate by the Republican controlled House. Reid admits he never even read them to see what they contained, just that they came from House Republicans and that was enough to throw them in the trash. The same thing happened with House bills dealing with the debt. He just can’t bring himself play nicely with the other kids in the room.
Who’s the biggest hypocrite on Capitol Hill? My pick would be Sen. Harry Reid.