Harry Reid Routes Around Rand Paul; Says No Changes To Patriot Act Is 'An Excellent Compromise'
from the do-we-use-different-dictionaries dept
We’ve been following the Senate leadership (of both major parties) attempts to push through an extension of some controversial Patriot Act surveillance provisions. As noted, the Senate decided to quickly push the matter towards a vote, cutting off outside debate over the provisions. However, that did still leave room for debate on the floor and the introduction of amendments, and some Senators spoke up — and spoke up vehemently. Rand Paul had a bunch of amendments and threatened to delay things. He pointed out that Senator Harry Reid lied, after promising to “set aside a week’s worth of debate” on the Patriot Act. Meanwhile Senators Ron Wyden, Mark Udall and Jeff Merkley all spoke out against parts of the Patriot Act and these extensions.
And yet… Senator Reid decided to get around all of that, by using a procedural trick to dump the existing bill and instead attach his bill to what appears to be a totally unrelated House business bill:
Sen. Reid basically killed his current bill and and opted to take up a House small business bill (it’s in a form that’s considered filibuster-proof as far as starting debate goes). Neither Rand Paul nor anyone else can object to this. Reid then amended the House bill with the entire text of the Patriot Act extension.
Of course, where this gets insane is in Senator Reid’s explanation for cutting off all of these complaints and amendments:
“We have worked over the last several days to work something out that I think is an excellent compromise,” said Reid on the Senate floor. “Is this bill something everyone in the Congress likes? I think the answer is no. But we all agree it’s important legislation.
“I have had many conversations with Senator Paul and tried to come up with a process to allow Senator Paul and others to offer amendments. I have been unsuccessful,” Reid said.
I think Senator Reid and I have different dictionaries. How is making no changes and simply extending out the existing law for four years, despite such vocal opposition, “an excellent compromise”? What “compromise” did he make, other than to his principles and his oath to serve the people?
Furthermore, if he tried to allow these Senators to offer amendments, how is cutting them off from being able to offer amendments in line with what he claims he tried to do? Rather than cutting them off and using a procedural trick, why didn’t he let them offer amendments?
Either way, it sounds like the extension will be somewhat delayed, meaning that the provisions may lapse for a day or two. Some supporters of the extension are suggesting that this is a horrible thing that will put us all in danger, but that’s ridiculous. First of all, existing investigations are grandfathered in, and second of all, it’s just a few days.
Perhaps the most ridiculous part of all of this is that one of the reasons why they’re saying this needs to be rushed through is that the bill itself needs to be flown to Europe so that the President (who is visiting Europe) can sign it. Do they no realize that these things can be done electronically these days?