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?

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Comments on “Harry Reid Routes Around Rand Paul; Says No Changes To Patriot Act Is 'An Excellent Compromise'”

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61 Comments
hegemon13 says:

Re: Re: Re:

RTFA. The bill is filibuster-proof. Rand Paul has demanded the 30 hours of post-cloture debate that is guaranteed as a part of Reid’s asinine maneuver. He has done everything possible to delay and debate this bill, while Reid uses parlor tricks to screw over the American people. Hypocrite? Hardly. He’s the only one standing up for the American people against an out-of-control, authoritarian government.

pixelpusher220 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Mr. Smith yawns in his general direction.

He can still place a hold on it. And it is not filibuster *proof*. Only budget bills are filibuster proof as directed by Senate rules. Reid attached it to a bill already passed int he house that is considered ‘must pass’. It now must be sent back to the house since he ‘updated’ it.

Paul is apparently filibustering it, or was before Reed switched it to this other bill. If Paul has the stones he’ll filibuster that too.

hegemon13 says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Sorry, you’re wrong. The rules for the bill Reid attached it to had already been decided. It was a slimeball move. Every explanation of Rand Paul’s current parliamentary maneuver states that the bill Reid attached it to cannot be filibustered. Paul is still delaying the bill using the procedures available to him. What else can you ask for? How about you save the outrage for all the jackasses that are not part of the group of 8 senators who actually care? How about you no direct it at the ONE GUY standing up for our rights? Or are you just a blind, left-loving fool who begs for these abuses and has to sling mud at a Republican, even when he’s defending you’re liberties?

Invi says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Paging the Rand Paul from the elections. Put a hold on this bill. Filibuster it.

You said you would stop this type of crap.

Or were you a complete hypocrite?”

..He was on the floor for 7 hours yesterday holding until they voted to table his amendments.. He’s trying to do exactly what he said he would, in any way he can.

HothMonster says:

Re: None of the Above!

“I will be voting for “None of the Above” in the next elections.”

I wish that was an option on the ballot “I find all of these candidates appalling.” So then us non-voters could at least make it known (with a quantifiable number) that its not that we don’t care, or are too lazy to vote but we don’t think either of the lesser evils is lesser enough to deserve our support.

Preemptive answer: My last vote was Nader/LeDuke in 2000

Simple Mind (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 None of the Above!

You sometimes think RP is a crackpot because the ones in power want you to think he is a crackpot so you don’t vote for him.

There was recently a piece on the national news (which one? they are all the same) where they gave a 20-30 second intro to all the GOP candidates. Ron Paul they brushed over in 2 seconds by just mentioning his name and that was it.

The idiot masses are brainwashed and controlled and will continue to vote for that which is not in their best interests.

DCX2 says:

Re: Re: Re: The problem with third parties

They will draw votes from one of the two major parties, probably the one more closely aligned with your interests. Intelligent voters realize this and won’t risk cutting off their nose to spite their face.

What we need is a simultaneous fracture; fourth parties. If both Republicans and Democrats had viable alternatives, many people wouldn’t feel like they risk wasting their vote.

John Thacker (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 The problem with third parties

Yes, the system makes third parties difficult, so the real key is to win primaries. Rand Paul got in by upsetting the establishment choice (Trey Greyson) in his primary. The same thing for Mike Lee (R-UT), one of the other Republicans to vote against this, he was the result of an incumbent Senator getting knocked off in party caucuses.

hegemon13 says:

Re: Re: Re: None of the Above!

Ron Paul is not a third party. He is running as a Republican, which means he has a chance (as opposed to running Libertarian, where he would have no chance). He has also polled as the strongest candidate against Obama in a general election in two separate polls. The challenge isn’t winning the general election. I think he’d have it, hands-down, due to independent and young-voter support. His major challenge is overcoming the media and the GOP establishment, who work night and day to marginalize him and make ideas like liberty, sound money, individual rights, and accountable government sound like crackpot ideas. If enough people register Republican to win him the nomination, we’ll have a true liberty-minded president for the first time since, what, Jefferson? (In some areas, Kennedy had it right, too, at least when it came to monetary policy.)

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 None of the Above!

I’ll be controversial and say Jackson.

Reason being, he did balance the budget, fought central banking for the exact reasons of the financial meltdown, and had enough balls to stand up to the Judicial Branch telling them “Let’s see you enforce what you’ve said.”

Not to mention beating the holy hell out of his assassin with a cane.

The dude was a badass even if he was racist against Native Americans.

Anonymous Coward says:

“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? “

But if they make a digital version than pirates can get it.

Beta (profile) says:

a stupid question

Pardon my gross ignorance, but this has been bothering me for a while. If Senator Reid can attach his bill to the House bill so effortlessly, why can’t Senator Paul attach his amendments to the House bill in the same way? Over and over I hear about this trick of attaching bad text to good, but I never hear about it working the other way. Is there some rule of order that gives rise to this pattern, or do the worst lawmakers just get in early in the morning and hoard all the paper clips?

John Thacker (profile) says:

Re: a stupid question

There is a Senate rule governing this. The House bill is considered a privileged bill– the Senate has already previous voted to consider the House bill and to set up various rules for debate for it, including the ability to go right to cloture.

The Senate Majority Leader has enormous power to offer amendments that ordinary Senators don’t have, and to affect the scheduling of debate. Technically he does need to get a majority of the Senate to agree to the rules at the start of the session to give him that extra power, but the Majority Party always gives that power to the Majority Leader. If they didn’t, why, they’d let the Other Team have too much power. They agree to give up their individual power in exchange for getting extra power by being part of the majority instead of minority.

John Thacker (profile) says:

Re: Re: a stupid question

In the House the Speaker, yes, but we’re talking about the Senate, which doesn’t have a Speaker. In the Senate it’s the Majority Leader, here Harry Reid, that has the power.

(OK, technically the Vice-President is the President of the Senate, but the Senate rules don’t give him any real power other than breaking ties.)

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

the senate needs an upgrade

I watched Rand Paul on Youtube yesterday and to illustrate his point, they put up a big board with charts on it. Why, in this modern age, can’t they use Powerpoint, and why must senators be in the room to vote (both of my senators were busy tending to the destruction in Joplin). The lack of technology is pathetic.

HothMonster says:

Re: the senate needs an upgrade

yeah well you every try teaching 70 year old men how to use the internet. Its laughably frustrating. We are going to have to wait for that generation to die out and the next to move in for tech in congress to advance. But of course that will be more old men and they will still be 30 years behind the times. But, hey you don’t want these old bastards more confused then they already are, it would just allow more lobbyists to sneak bullshit right into their brains.

John Thacker (profile) says:

Re: Re: the senate needs an upgrade

Ron Paul is an old cranky bastard, while President Obama is fairly young and tech-savvy. But I’d rather have Ron Paul on these issues.

Don’t confuse “politicians who think that technology is cool and know how to use it” with “politicians who favor good laws for technology.” They may be correlated, but they may be not.

HothMonster says:

Re: Re: Re: the senate needs an upgrade

“Don’t confuse “politicians who think that technology is cool and know how to use it” with “politicians who favor good laws for technology.”

oh i certainly wouldn’t. I was just speaking on his point that congress as a whole is about 30 years behind the general public when it comes to technology. Lack of powerpoints, remote video participation and many blatant misconceptions about the internet and other tech.

Beta (profile) says:

in other words

“Officials will have to fly a copy of the Patriot Act extension overseas if they are to prevent a range of law-enforcement powers from expiring…”

Apart from the 20th-century retro charm, note that this boils down to “we must race to extend the Act or else it will expire”. Flying to Europe really has nothing to do with it.

Or to elaborate: “the deadline is looming, so we must extend the Act without debating whether to let it expire, or else it will expire, because we put off debate until the deadline was looming”.

Anonymous Coward says:

The compromise was most likely that some politicians wanted to ADD to it…so keeping it exactly as it is could still be considered a compromise. That being said, if a politician wants the act to stay the same, and knows that the other politicians want to gut it, then it would not be unheard of for that first politician to ask for more so that they can compromise on the exact same act they had before.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Preventing the act from being further discussed for a few days is hardly a compromise.

He bypassed the discussion process exactly to avoid any compromises. The whole point of trying to further discuss the issue was to figure out what can be added and/or removed so that a compromise could be made. Bypassing that process was intended to avoid such compromises.

Speculating that additions were made as a matter of compromise is probably not true because that wouldn’t excuse bypassing the discussion.

Also notice what he said

“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.

In other words, no compromise was made. He claims that he tried to offer a process to allow Senator Paul and others to offer amendments …. by circumventing the discussion? How does that make sense. It’s a lie.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

(IOW, there was a process that allowed Rand Paul and others to offer amendments. The discussions, which would have only delayed the passage of the act by a few days, were an important part of that process. He circumvented the process. He didn’t try “to come up with a process to allow Senator Paul and others to offer amendments” he circumvented the process that allowed them to offer amendments).

abc gum says:

Harry Reid may be an ass for this and many other things, but what was the other choice? Sharon Angle is a nut.

if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies

What are you going to do to develop jobs in your state?’ Well, that’s not my job as a U.S. senator

We wanted them to ask the questions we want to answer so that they report the news the way we want it to be reported

Some of you look a little more Asian to me … I’ve been called the first Asian legislator in our Nevada State Assembly

(above quotes from http://politicalhumor.about.com/od/republicanquotes/a/Sharron-Angle-Quotes.htm)

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