Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell laid out their best arguments for and against the “nuclear option” to end filibusters of most judicial and executive branch nominees on Thursday.
Watch Roll Call’s best moments from Senate floor debate this week:
As of Wednesday evening, no opponents of the measure had spoken on the floor. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., became the first member to do so Thursday morning. Coats expressed concern about protections for religious institutions that are opposed to same-sex relationships.
The debate surrounding the government shutdown has been white hot in the Senate over the past few weeks, leading some lawmakers to complain about a lack of decorum.
Indeed, twice over the past two days, senators reminded their colleagues of Senate rules.
“I think we’ve all here in the Senate kind of lost the aura of Robert Byrd, who was such a stickler for Senate procedure,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Friday morning on the Senate floor. “I think we’ve all let things get away from us a little bit. The Senate is a very special place with very particular rules.”
Longstanding Senate precedents tied to the Senate’s original rules require senators to speak through the presiding officer, as noted in “Riddick’s Senate Procedure.”
“Senators in debate should address each other through the Chair and in the third person,” the book of precedents explains.
Additionally, Senate Rule 19 states: “No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.”
“The latest plan came from the junior senator from Texas [and it] is to cherry pick parts of the government he likes,” Reid said. He added that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., “is following Cruz’s idea specifically. Sen. Cruz is now joint speaker. He lectures the House on occasion, as he does people over here.
Reid’s reference quickly drew criticism, particularly because Cruz was not on the floor at the time to defend himself. Full story
Sen. Chris Coons is following in the footsteps of two predecessors, including the current vice president, taking up the cause of Amtrak.
The Delaware Democrat has filed an amendment to the Transportation-HUD spending bill to boost Amtrak funding by $113 million, bringing the total for the account up to $1.565 billion. The amendment doesn’t include an offsetting cut to another part of the bill, likely causing an issue for the top-line spending level.
Senators have just begun to process amendments to the $54 billion fiscal 2014 appropriations measure.
In announcing his plan Wednesday, Coons quoted from remarks made earlier this year by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., at the funeral of New Jersey Democrat Frank R. Lautenberg.
“If it wasn’t for Frank, Amtrak wouldn’t be what it is today,” Coons quoted Biden as having said.
Senate Democrats frustrated by Republican objections to forming a House-Senate conference committee on the budget have made a cartoon anthropomorphizing their long-suffering budget resolution.
It’s sort of the “How a Budget Resolution Doesn’t Become A Law” version of “How a Bill Becomes a Law.”
In the animated video “I’m Just a Budget,” the said budget resolution sings a song about why he hasn’t been able to go to Congress 100 days after the Senate passed him.
It features Senate floor cameos from Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, offering their pleas for “regular order,” followed by quick clips of Sens. Randy Paul, R-Ky., Ted Cruz, R-Texas; and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., saying “I object” to unanimous consent agreements to send the resolution to a conference with the House.
Niels Lesniewski has covered the Senate for CQ Roll Call since January 2010, and more recently as a staff writer and resident procedure guru for Roll Call. Niels holds degrees in both government and theater but sometimes can't tell the difference between the two. @nielslesniewski
Meredith Shiner has covered Senate leadership, legislation and everything in between for Roll Call since joining in June 2011, having previously covered Congress and national politics for Politico. @meredithshiner