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October 31, 2014

GOP Deploys Two-Hour Rule to Stall IRS Nominee Hearing

koskinen121013 445x298 GOP Deploys Two Hour Rule to Stall IRS Nominee Hearing

Koskinen testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on his nomination to be commissioner of the IRS. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Finance Committee’s hearing to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee to run the IRS became the latest casualty of procedural sparring on Tuesday.

Republicans invoked the Senate’s rule against holding committee meetings beyond the first two hours of the Senate’s day with respect to the Finance panel’s nomination hearing on John Andrew Koskinen to be commissioner of the IRS.

“The other side of the aisle, the Republican Party, has objected, as is their right under the Senate rules,” Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said, noting that under the rule the hearing could not continue past noon.

The rule about committee meeting times is obscure, but it does surface from time to time. A recent notable example was this past May, when Republicans declined to consent to the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee’s consideration of Thomas E. Perez to be Labor secretary.

Senators spent most of their morning away from the hearing room because they had a series of procedural votes on the floor, starting with confirmation of Patricia Ann Millett to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and a series of motions that will lead to confirmation of Rep. Melvin Watt, D-N.C., to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, quite possibly by the end of business Tuesday.

Republicans required roll call votes on several procedural items that might ordinarily have been handled by unanimous consent until Democrats changed the precedent on nominations to eliminate the ability of the minority party to sustain a filibuster. During the vote sequence, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky sought to overturn the precedent that set up the simple majority threshold, effectively trying to undo the “nuclear option.”

The Senate turned back McConnell’s procedural appeal, 51-45.

The use of the two-hour rule on a routine nomination hearing is telling. It’s a signal that Senate Republicans are in no mood to allow Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., much schedule flexibility under the revised Senate rules.

“We will reconvene at the earliest possible time, given the complexities and special rules of the Senate,” Baucus said. “And I again regret that we cannot continue the hearing now, but we will resume the hearing at the appropriate time. But I cannot resume the hearing after this next vote which is occurring right now because … the Republican Party has said, which is their right, that the Senate hearings cannot continue two hours after the Senate comes into session.”

This follows Monday evening’s exchange on the Senate floor between Reid and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., about the rules, during which Alexander pledged to have standing objections ”until I understand better how a United States senator is supposed to operate in a Senate without rules.”

  • Raylusk

    Its time for Senate Dems to change more rules. Americans want congress to work and are sick and tired of GOP obstruction.

    • mabramso

      The American people are so far removed from even knowing who is being considered as nominees that the only people who are upset here are Democrats, who hate the GOP anyway. So no one really cares.

      But be careful what you wish for. Any rules the Dems change will apply to the next Senate, which has a pretty good shot at flipping control in November. After all, the GOP only needs to flip 6 seats, and the Dem polling firm PPP just released a poll showing the Dem candidate in Michigan (about the 10th most vulnerable seat) running behind.

      • Raylusk

        Even if the GOP takes control of the Senate in 2014and remember everyone was so sure they would do so in 2012 they would still have to face Obama. As far as 2016 I think it’s likely we will have another Democrat president. But it doesn’t matter in the end if the public understands the rules of the Senate, they just want Congress to do their job. Hence the record low approval rating of Congress. Senate rules are going to change. The only question is when. Sooner is better so that Obama can get things done.

        • mabramso

          First, Senators do NOT represent the American people — they represent the citizens of their state only — same idea with the House. And as far as THEIR constituents are concerned, given the incumbent re-election rate, they ARE doing their job. And the recourse is the election.

          Along those same lines, the generic approval rate of Congress is the more useless statistic in politics. It represents what Americans think of the OTHER politicians who they do not have any opportunity of voting for or against. So when people are asked their opinion, Republicans disapprove of Congress because they hate what the Democrats in Congress are doing, and vice versa for the Republicans. And this is especially pronounced in the current situation with split power. You watch. If the GOP flips the Senate, or if the Dems flip the House, Congressional approval rate will shoot up into at least the 20s, probably the 30s. Why? Because one party’s voters will be pleased and will answer that way in the polls.

          The Senate rules have very little to do with Obama getting anything done. Obama cannot control legislation, and he is doing pretty much whatever he wants administratively. Changes in Senate rules are not going to change that. The latest change in the Senate rules was done for one reason — to stack the DC Court of Appeals, which rules on the regulations that the federal government puts out. All this will end up doing is delay the process for which citizens can have their grievances addressed, since the Supreme Court will now be inclined to review more cases coming out of DC.

          • Raylusk

            You are clueless. First the Senators do not take an oath to only those they elect. No where in the constitution does it say that a Senator only represents those that voted for them. In fact the Constitution specifically says both Senators and Reps should provide for the defense and GENERAL WELFARE” of the US. If what you were saying were true that Senators are elected to represent the citizens of their State only then what do they do when the Citizens of their state want them to do something that is in conflict with the defense of general welfare of the US. This is what people like Ted Cruz and others don’t get. While clearly they have to be aware of the desires of those that vote them into office when they assume that office their obligation is to represent our nation.

            As far as your attempt to make an argument that congress is showing their low disapproval rates because of citizens from the opposite party that is also not correct. First polls show that America’s disapproval of the GOP is greater then the disapproval of the Democrats. Second if what you said sere true then that would be the same all the time but it doesn’t account for the record disapproval of congress.

            And once again you are wrong with the rules change having nothing to do with Obama getting things done. If that were true then why were Senate Republicans filibustering Obama’s Administration appointees. It’s because they know that the President can’t get things done with out the right people advising and helping. Your claim that he is doing whatever he wants administratively is just conservative hogwash.

            Now go crawl back into your conservative bubble while the rest of the country moves on with out you. I’m tired of your ignorance and will waste no more of my time on you.

        • tpaine1

          Obama can’t veto what he doesn’t see. If ALL he gets is a balanced federal budget then what??

    • Matt

      Please explain that when Democrats want to use the federal government to force people to do things – whether it be to buy Democrat light bulbs, not buy a large Coke, or buy ObamaCare health care plans, obstruction is bad? What if 55% of the country didn’t want ObamaCare – is that bad obstruction, or good? What if 55% of the country thinks Obama is doing a bad job – should we obstruct what he wants to do? What if 65% percent of the country thinks Democrats are leading in the wrong direction – is that bad obstruction to stop them?
      Here’s what’s broken in the liberal mind. We don’t really care if you abort your children, smoke pot, marry some person/dog/cat to take you out of the DNA gene pool – we just don’t want to pay for it. Drive your stupid Smart car – don’t make us drive one. Can you get that in your minds? Screw up Detroit/San Francisco, New York if you want – but leave Texas, TN, AL, GA, FL, AZ, KY, OK, AK, WY – the 30 red states out of it. Can you understand?

      • Pachuco4u

        And if Texas, TN, AL, GA, FL, AZ, KY, OK, AK, WY all want to segregate, discriminate and not tolerate and 55% of their people think it is OK, then hey, Matt says its all good.
        Get a clue and stop hating your fellow Americans.

        • tpaine1

          I don’t hate Democrats. I know they are “low information” voters with very little knowledge of history. Socialism has NEVER worked any where at any point in history despite your “bumper sticker” slogans like “universal health care??”

      • Raylusk

        Here is the problem with your ridiculous argument. You latch on to 55% of Americans don’t like the job Obama is doing. Well 75% don’t like the job Republicans are doing and 94% don’t like the job Congress is doing.

        • tpaine1

          And which Party controls the Senate and the Presidency? Might want to look at the “right track / wrong track” numbers since your Party has been in control.
          YOUR argument looks pretty ridiculous when you realize Obama is STILL down 8,000,000 working Americans from when he took office.
          Might want to look at the “labor participation rate” before talking about what a GREAT JOB Democrats have done for the country.

          • Pachuco4u

            Perhaps we are on the wrong track because one party is intent on harming this country through obstruction in the face of enormous challenges. Their refusal to address the jobs issue and insistence on austerity during recession are directly intended to hurt this country’s economy for political gain.

    • tpaine1

      No, I’m sick of the lying about the ObamaCon Tax, trillion dollar annual deficits, no budgets for seven years – in short, I’m SICK of Senate Democrats.

      • Pachuco4u

        Ok. So you regard a step toward healthcare for everyone as a tax, beieve the deficit is all the democrats fault and don’t know that we didn’t get a budget for so long because the GOP wouldn’t allow it to go to committee. And who is a “low information” voter? Look in the mirror, my friend. I have little tolerance for those who are so easily manipulated. Peace.

  • Jesse4

    Republicans are more serious about preventing governing than governing.

    • mabramso

      Last I checked, Republicans currently have no authority to govern — only to introduce and vote on legislation.

      • Pachuco4u

        WTF do you think leigslation is if not governing? You can continue to try and justify the actions and obstruction of the GOP, but it is becoming obvious to even non-political citizens that they hurting this country because they dislike our President. They have chosen party over country and the American people aren’t blind to it.

        • mabramso

          OK, it’s semantics. The GOP currently has no authority to do anything except introduce and pass bills in the House of Representatives. Satisfied?

          As for the rest of your comments, the “party over country” argument is absurd. The two parties have fundamental disagreements on what constitutes good government, and there is NOTHING new about this. The two sides have argued about the same issues year after year since the country began. It’s just that now, the sides are more polarized and unbending because their constituents are!

          Part of the problem is that, in any negotiation, if you want to achieve compromise, you have to at least offer the other side SOMETHING that is better in THEIR eyes than the status quo. And while the GOP is not too good at that, the Democrats are terrible at it. In fact, that fully explains the sequester. Once the sequester was in place, Obama was not willing to give the GOP enough to motivate the GOP to undo the sequester, even though it hurts the DoD, which has historically been a GOP area of strength.

          • Pachuco4u

            The ACA was a right wing idea given to the GOP as a compromise instead of single payer and look where that got the Dems. The right has previously been OK with closing loopholes and fixing the tax code, but now NO WAY. The Pres has offered chained CPI but they don’t want to work with him even if it hurts they country. They keep moving the goal post because they do not want to compromise with this president because it will get them a primary callenge from the tea party faction. It is shameful.

          • mabramso

            Liberal talking points. The ACA was never a right wing idea. One aspect of it, the individual mandate, was suggested by an obscure think tank many years ago. Big deal. Perhaps we should cite former KKK member and long-time Democrat Senator Robert Byrd, pre-1960, on Democrat Party ideas on race relations. They are about equal in terms of being a valid argument.

            The closing of loopholes is a tax hike. The right is not in favor of tax hikes, period. So this is not a Democrat compromise — it is a GOP compromise, and so you make my point. Yes, the GOP favors adjustments to the CPI, but this is peanuts, compared to GOP objections of the bill they were attached to. Again, the Democrats did not offer SUFFICIENT compromise to attract GOP votes. But none of this is unusual. This is the classic struggle for political power and control of the agenda.

            Finally, I fail to see what is shameful about voting the way THEIR constituents want them to — as is evidenced by their 2012 elections. If people don’t like it, they can vote them out.

          • Pachuco4u

            We will.

          • Raylusk

            You really are bad at this. Are you really this ignorant? We know for a fact that republicans don’t believe what they claim to believe. You know fiscal responsibility, small government, states rights, and low taxes. We know this because of their real world actions. When they are in charge of the government it grows and the deficit explodes. It has happened over and over for 50 plus years. We now know they don’t care about state rights since we have seen almost every GOP controlled state give up their right to establish a state insurance exchange all because they wanted to make a political point. If they truly valued small government they would have kept as much control of the ACA as possible.

            By the way the GOP was offered a deal that would have cut the future growth of social security through chained CPI and almost every other social welfare program in exchange for raising revenue $120 billion a year. Remember it’s the GOP’s claim that the real issue is entitlement programs and this deal would have given them the reform they wanted. But they decided they couldn’t vote for additional revenue. It’s clear that the GOP is the primary driver of the lack of solution to our issues.

          • mabramso

            Ah, more liberal name-calling. Is that the best you can do? Any time you want to compare education level, bring it on.

            First, I am not a Republican. I am a conservative independent. And conservatives were furious at Bush for spending too much, and now they are angrier at Democrats for dwarfing Bush in spending. But hey, conservatives have always been a minority, and so spending is never really reduced.

            Second, the idea that the ACA is a state-run program is ludicrous. Sure, they try to suck in the states with temporary free money, but states have the right not to do exchanges, and they have. Long live federalism! These states simply exercised a different portion of the ACA, and the Feds are stuck with the responsibility. But that is on the Dems — they passed the bill!

            And in answer to your last point, chained CPI was a minor carrot offered to the GOP in exchange for agreement on a big tax hike, which the GOP opposes on principle. Clearly, the GOP believed that the status quo was better than a tax hike with chained CPI. But why are you whining about this now? The tax deal went through when the GOP compromised :-), and you GOT your tax hikes on the rich! It was a great bill — I loved it!

  • mikem42

    Republican senators are just licking their wounds, feeling hurt and sorry for themselves, all the while letting the business of running the country go to hell.

    • mabramso

      Last I checked, the Democrats are running the country. The GOP has very little power to do anything other than to not agree with Obama’s agenda.

      • Pachuco4u

        The GOP has the power to grind progress to a hault because we have three equal branches of government that are supposed to work together in the interest of the people. Apparently the GOP (and you for that matter) has forgotten this or chosen to fight for political ideology rather than the good of the country. Ideas that have originated on the right have been opposed by the GOP because they do not want this President to have success while in power. Quit making excuses for them.

        • mabramso

          EXCUSES??? It is the Democrats who are trying to blame the GOP for their inability to get things done. WAAAAAAA!!!!

          Good grief. There is NOTHING new here. And in 2010, the PEOPLE elected a GOP House EXACTLY for the purpose of grinding Obama’s agenda to a halt, and they were re-elected in 2012. So quit making excuses and learn to compromise. This isn’t one-party rule, however much you may wish it to be.

          • Pachuco4u

            Record filibusters by this group of “legislators”. Obstruction that is blatently and obviously intended to hurt this country’s economy and in turn this president. NO. They were elected because they ran on JOBS, JOBS, JOBS and and blamed the dems for the bad economy. Where are the jobs bills? Where? NOT ONE! They have no intention of doing anything that will help this country if it will even slightly make the President look good. Again, shameful.
            Your last point about one party rule speaks volumes. The GOP will not compromise unless they get everything they want and that still might not be enough. That is not compromise and that is not how this democracy was intended to work. The right needs to cleanse themselves of the tea party and come to the table willing to work with the other side. It looks like there may be some little bit of this with the budget negotiations and defense spending. Let’s hope it is real.
            It has been the right that has been unwilling to work on the HUGE issues facing this country and you know it. Let’s stop this constant bickering and find solutions on at least issues where there is common ground.

          • mabramso

            Record filibusters occurred only because Democrats tried to ram through the most leftist agenda in history.

            The GOP has always believed that the answer to jobs and increasing employment lies in the private sector, not in the government. So bills that lower taxes and regulations and allow companies to compete are the real jobs bills. But Obama wants none of that.

            Look, you complain about the Republicans all you want, and yes, the GOP House and Senators are less compromising than in previous years, but Obama is no compromiser. Sure, he’ll throw the GOP a bone once in a while, but nothing really serious.

            One other thing. Why should the GOP compromise with Obama when he only intends to enforce part of the law (which is what he has been doing)? The GOP is balking on immigration, for example, because they believe that if they compromise, Obama will only enforce the parts of the law that he agrees with.

          • mikem42

            Most “leftist” agenda in history. Didn’t study much history did you? Go back to LBJ and FDR and check out your history. So the Democrats want to provide affordable health insurance to everyone, regardless of income or status, and you see that as horrible. And to reinstate some regulations concerning the financial industry, and to have clean air and water and safe working conditions, how horrible! You don’t know what you are talking about and care not a wit for your fellow man, woman or child. It’s all about you, right?

          • mabramso

            I see that you like making false accusations that you wish were true.

            So where’s the affordable health insurance? Premiums and deductibles have skyrocketed for most people, and WAY more people have LOST health insurance than gained it. I am interested in what ACTUALLY WORKS, and the ACA does the exact opposite.

            The problem with the financial bill is that, like everything passed into the law by Obama administration, is that it was a partisan bill that does NOTHING to solve the problem that tanked the economy in 2007-2008.

            Clean air and water? Really? Yes, everyone who doesn’t agree with you wants dirty air and water so they can get sick and die. There’s some logic for you. And frankly, where is Obama’s bill on that?

            The difference between our views is not about caring — you believe that caring = federal government action. I don’t. Caring is about actually doing something. Any time you want to compare time and money toward charitable causes, bring it on.

          • mikem42

            It’s still all about you, isn’t it? You should be a fisherman as many “red herrings” you toss out there.

          • Pachuco4u

            Lower taxes for upperclass and deregulation has been tried since Reagan. The wealth never trickled down and the deregulation caused massive financial instability. These ideas have failed. So your party won’t help the country because they claim to know the intentions of the President which would lead to the demise of their side of a compromise. If that were true nobody would EVER have reason to compromise. Perhaps their intentions should be for what is good for the country rather than what is compliant with their ideology. Open your mind and realize that we are in this together and you will not always get your way. Your side is not correct in every aspect of policy. When your side has a majority you get more of what you want. When you don’t, you don’t. Stop the obstruction. It is hurting the country.

          • mabramso

            I am not a Republican. I am independent.
            And you don’t get it. It doesn’t matter what you say here — the GOP members of the House BELIEVE they are doing what is best for the country! There is NOTHING here policy-wise that is CORRECT or NOT CORRECT — it is all opinion and what each side BELIEVES is best for the country.

          • Pachuco4u

            You are incorrect. They know what they are doing is bad for the country and they just work to get YOU to believe it is good. Correct is what will work and the right’s worn out ideas haven’t worked for the last 30 years. Independent means you are open to both sides. You are not. You can call yourself what you wish, but it is evident that you are very right of center. We are going to have to move on without you. Maybe someday you will come around.

          • mabramso

            Wow, what absolute BS, and typical left-wing condescending attitude. You even know more about what they are thinking than they do! Amazing

      • mikem42

        Can’t run the country with 1 branch. Last I checked the House is Republican, and the Senate is being sabotaged by the petulant R’s. And the agenda is the one voted for by the public at large. So, the repugs do nothing, and that hurt everyone.

        • mabramso

          Actually, I misspoke. The Democrats are not running the country, they are running the federal government. And except for budgets (or continuing CRs that keep the government from shutting down), the Democrats are perfectly capable of running most of the government. In fact, Obama has been doing that for quite some time via selective law enforcement and new regulations.

          With respect to agenda, I fail to see how this is any different than any other time in history. I can just as easily accuse Harry Reid of sabotage. And there is no specific agenda. The Dems and GOP both want their agenda to paramount, but neither has the power to pursue it. Sometimes that produces compromise, sometimes it produces gridlock. And gridlock certainly hasn’t hurt me.

          • mikem42

            Ahh, so it’s all about you. Typical Republican.

          • mabramso

            That’s all you got? That’s pathetic. And I am not a Republican. I am an independent, and have been for almost 20 years.

          • mikem42

            This is just a game to you, isn’t it? As for how you register to vote, you just show that you stand for nothing, just what’s best for you. You want pathetic, look in a mirror.

          • mabramso

            More false accusations. Typical liberal. I am a retired Air Force officer with 7 children, and I donate thousands to charities each year. It’s never been about me.

          • mikem42

            And yet, you continue to talk about yourself. And who the hell cares what you do with your money. And, I don’t know what a typical liberal is; I too served in the military service, regular Navy, but that doesn’t mean anything in my personal feelings about the country. I’m told by my fellow Legionaires that I should be more conservative. Based on what, liking war? Talk about issues, offer real life solutions that help everyone, rich and poor, and I will maybe take your point of view more seriously.

  • Rob

    Why do homosexuals get paid $28,000,000,000 (billion) annually for mental and physical help from the white house rat?

  • George Allegro

    As central governments become more intoxicated with their own vanity, they undertake more fool’s errands in the name of this or that superstition du jour conjured up to justify their actions.

  • Liberalism is Nonsense

    The word “collectivism” does not refer to the interactions and voluntary association that arise spontaneously from our social human nature.

  • tpaine1

    Good on ya’ Lamar. Democrats wanted the “nuclear option,” give it to them.

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