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    18 May 2005

    Nuclear fallout - what to expect

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    WaPo has a great article on the upcoming events surrounding the Republican attempt to hi-jack Senate rules. Here is the link and some choice clips from the article. Certainly stuff that you won't see reported on the MSM and in Red State papers.

    A report last month by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service asserted that "the point of a 'nuclear' or 'constitutional' option is to achieve changes in Senate procedure by using means that lie outside the Senate's normal rules of procedure."

    Also, some Democrats have advanced evidence that the GOP gambit lacks support from the Senate parliamentarian, the official who typically rules on what is allowable under the chamber's rules and precedents.

    Reid told reporters last month that the parliamentarian, Alan S. Frumin, had told him that he opposed the Republicans' plan and that "if they do this, they will have to overrule him."

    Frumin, who was appointed by Republican leaders in 2001, has not been granting interviews. But a senior Republican Senate aide confirmed that Frist does not plan to consult Frumin at the time the nuclear option is deployed. "He has nothing to do with this," the aide said. "He's a staffer, and we don't have to ask his opinion."


    Anyway, if Frist (and when I say Frist I mean Dobson) fails, America will have overcome a victory over a tyrant majority. However, if Frist/Dobson/the extremists win the results will still be good. Senate Dems and some maverick Repubs will shut down the Senate, this is good because the Repubs have done nothing but pass damaging legislation so far in this cycle, and with people like Bolton coming up for nomination the damage is getting worse. But shutdown is not what it sounds like. Invoking a little-known Senate procedure called Rule XIV, Dems recently put nine bills on the Senate calendar

    1. Women's Health Care (S. 844). "The Prevention First Act of 2005" will reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions by increasing funding for family planning and ending health insurance discrimination against women.

    2. Veterans' Benefits (S. 845). "The Retired Pay Restoration Act of 2005" will assist disabled veterans who, under current law, must choose to either receive their retirement pay or disability compensation.

    3. Fiscal Responsibility (S. 851). Democrats will move to restore fiscal discipline to government spending and extend the pay-as-you-go requirement.

    4. Relief at the Pump (S. 847). Democrats plan to halt the diversion of oil from the markets to the strategic petroleum reserve. By releasing oil from the reserve through a swap program, the plan will bring down prices at the pump.

    5. Education (S. 848). Democrats have a bill that will: strengthen head start and child care programs, improve elementary and secondary education, provide a roadmap for first generation and low-income college students, provide college tuition relief for students and their families, address the need for math, science and special education teachers, and make college affordable for all students.

    6. Jobs (S. 846). Democrats will work in support of
    legislation that guarantees overtime pay for workers and sets a fair minimum wage.

    7. Energy Markets (S. 870). Democrats work to prevent Enron-style market manipulation of electricity.

    8. Corporate Taxation (S. 872). Democrats make sure companies pay their fair share of taxes to the U.S. government instead of keeping profits overseas.

    9. Standing with our troops (S. 11). Democrats believe that putting America's security first means standing up for our troops and their families


    Rule XIV allows the Dems to bypass the committee process and be placed directly on the Senate floor. By tradition, the Senate Majority Leader controls the voting agenda, but only by tradition. And since the nuclear option is blowing that out of the water, why cling to the old ways?

    These are important and meaningful bills that get no support from Repubs, now they will be forced to vote on these bills and face the public if they vote them down or face there leadership if they grow some balls and pass them. Rule XIV makes everything get an up or down vote, this will be nothing like the 90s when Newt shut down the Senate, Sen. Durbin

    We're not going to shut down the Senate. We're not going to shut down the government. I can tell you we learned our lesson watching Newt Gingrich. That hapless tactic was terrible. It's not going to happen again. But I will tell you this. If they decide on the Republican side to break the rules in order to change the rules, then sadly we have no choice but to enforce the rules and live by them.

    It will be a different Senate. Senators will be at their desks more, on the floor more, in session more. The key legislation for the defense of America and our troops and important appropriations bills will still pass, but the agenda of the Senate and the procedure of the Senate will change.

    In conclusion, it is important to remember that Republicans are the ones breaking the rules here. And by breaking, I mean shattering. Cheney intends to rule in Frist's favor despite the fact that the Senate Parliamentarian - normally the final arbiter of Senate rules and procedure - would find the maneuver out of order. The promised response, however, is not even close to the "shutdown" Republicans are trying to sell you. Instead, it's a literal application of the rules as written. This should be an exciting session.

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