During the debate over health care reform, a favorite Republican tactic was to try slowing down the process by claiming that they were being frozen out by the Democrats, and that none of their ideas were being included in the legislation. This was repeatedly revealed to be completely untrue, as Democrats spent months negotiating with the GOP and included scores of its ideas, but still, the talking point persisted.
Now that financial regulatory reform is inching its way toward the finish line, Republicans may be looking to resurrect the same strategy:
“I think we all realize that there’s no real attempt for a bipartisan bill,” [Sen. Bob] Corker (R-TN) said. “We’re outnumbered.” He said there may be a few Republicans who are satisfied with the bill but he’s “not going to vote for a bad bill.”
Corker was singing a very different tune just a few months ago, when Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) specifically reopened negotiations with him, after previous talks with the committee’s ranking member, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), wound up going nowhere. Dodd then included many of the provisions that he and Corker worked out when he brought his bill to committee markup. He also gave the Republicans ample opportunity to offer amendments during the markup, which the Republicans chose not to do. (Corker later called this a “major strategic error.”)
Even during the amendment process on the Senate floor, Republicans are getting a very fair shake. So far, the Senate has voted on 26 amendments. Of these, 14 were sponsored by Republicans, 9 were sponsored by Democrats/Independents, and 3 had a sponsor from both parties. So 17 of the 26 amendments had Republican backing:
Republican Amendments: Snowe #3755 (passed, voice vote); Snowe #3757 (passed, voice vote); Shelby #3826 (failed, 38-61); Ensign #3869 (failed, 35-59); Vitter #3760 (failed, 37-62); McCain #3839 (failed, 43-56); Corker #3955 (failed, 42-57); Snowe #3918 (passed, voice vote); Chambliss #3816 (failed, 39-59); Crapo #3992 (passed, voice vote); Lemieux #3774 (passed, 61-38); Sessions #3832 (failed, 42-58); Thune #3987 (failed, 40-55); Collins #3879 (passed, voice vote)
Democratic/Independent Amendments: Boxer #3737 (passed, 96-1); Brown #3733 (failed 33-61); Sanders #3738 (passed, 96-0); Dodd #3938 (passed, 63-36); Merkley #3962 (passed, 63-36); Reed #3943 (passed 98-1); Landrieu #3956 (passed, voice vote); Franken #3991 (passed, 64-35); Durbin #3989 (passed, 64-33);
Sponsor From Both Parties: Shelby-Dodd #3827 (passed 93-5); Tester-Hutchison #3749 (passed, 98-0); Hutchison-Klobuchar #3759 (passed, 90-9)
Thus far, 9 Republican-sponsored amendments have been accepted, as well as 11 Democratic sponsored amendments. And let’s not forget, Republicans spent three days filibustering the motion to simply start debate on the bill. Considering the circumstances, Dodd has been extremely accommodating.
In fact, when Dodd decided to begin admonishing other Senators about the plethora of amendments slowing down the bill, he went at members of his own party, dressing down Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND)! There hasn’t been a peep about Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-SC) attempt to bring up a completely unrelated amendment requiring completion of a border fence.
According to Politico, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) wants to file cloture on the financial reform bill next week, limiting the remaining debate to 30 hours. But Republicans have said that doing so would be “premature” and “force a showdown.” At this point, though, they only have themselves to blame for sucking up valuable debate time with filibusters and nonsensical amendments.