Republicans hope to block Majority Leader Reid's amendment tactic

Jan. 17, 2014 at 5:28 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. Senate Republicans have tried four times recently to block Majority Leader Harry Reid from "filling the amendment tree" and blocking their amendments.

The tactic, which has failed so far, is to move to table minor amendments Reid, D-Nev., has added to major bills, using his prerogative as majority leader, the Hill reported. Republicans say Reid has been far freer with what is known as "filling the amendment tree" than other majority leaders.

Under Senate rules, once a given number of amendments have been introduced, no more may be brought forward without a procedural vote. The majority leader has the privilege of introducing amendments first.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, pioneered the tactic, introducing a motion to table Reid's amendments to protest cutting $6 billion in military pensions from the budget bill.

Since then it has been used by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

While the Senate has rejected their motions on generally party-line votes, Republicans say they hope to succeed in the future or at least to attract more attention to Reid's behavior.

"We now have a tool to force Democrats to vote on specific Republican ideas, and the pressure will build each time they vote the wrong way," a Sessions spokesman told the Hill. "For instance, every member of the majority except one effectively voted to cut veterans' pensions rather than cutting welfare for illegal immigrants. Sooner or later they will realize it's easier to work with us than to continue shutting us out."

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