Senate rules are not quite as difficult to understand as quantum mechanics, but they come close. So I’m going to have to send you to Alexander Bolton at The Hill for an explanation of Harry Reid’s “nuclear” maneuver last night:
The Democratic leader had become fed up with Republican demands for votes on motions to suspend the rules after the Senate had voted to limit debate earlier in the day.
McConnell had threatened such a motion to force a vote on the original version of President Obamaâ€™s jobs package, which many Democrats donâ€™t like because it would limit tax deductions for families earning over $250,000. The jobs package would have been considered as an amendment.
McConnell wanted to embarrass the president by demonstrating how few Democrats are willing to support his jobs plan as first drafted. (Senate Democrats have since rewritten the jobs package to pay for its stimulus provisions with a 5.6 surtax on income over $1 million.)
Reidâ€™s move strips the minority of the power of forcing politically-charged procedural votes after the Senate has voted to cut off a potential filibuster and move to a final vote, which the Senate did on the China measure Tuesday morning, 62-38.
Ryan Grim and Michael McAuliffe at Huffington Post provide more detail.
The usual candyass rightie bloggers are screaming about “tyranny” this morning. How dare the Senate Majority Leaders use a parliamentary procedure to block Republicans from playing stupid political games with important legislation? Well, that’s not how they put it, but that’s what it is.
And Steve M writes,
It seems that the Republicans either got lazy or sloppy, and left the door open for Reid to throw some serious jujitsu. Now, what this means is that one of the byzantine filibuster options available to the Republicans is going to go away. If that happens, all of a sudden things get very, very interesting.
So here’s what I want to know: is Reid really going to do this, or is he finally playing cards he has left in order to win concessions from Orange Julius and the House? Let’s not forget that Republicans immediately reneged on the deal reached after the debt ceiling fight and tried to shut down the government a few weeks ago. If this is Harry Reid’s payback, then I hope he’s at least getting passage of the American Jobs Act out of the deal at the bare minimum.
In other words, if Republicans kill the legislation, Dems will then press GOP members to start also killing its component parts, one at a time. Itâ€™s one thing to reject a package deal; itâ€™s more striking to force Republicans to vote against popular ideas, over and over again â€” no to infrastructure investments, no to small business tax cuts, no to saving teachersâ€™ jobs, no to the jobs-for-veterans tax break, etc.
See also mistermix.