Minister of Science and Chief Protector of the Faith

Thursday, July 19, 2007

What Did your Senator Wear to the All-Night Congressional Pajama Party?

Reid and Pelosi

Reid and PelosiAfter an all night debate, the Republican senate again blocked a proposal to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq on Tuesday. Senate Republicans refused to allow an up-or-down vote on the Levin-Reed amendment to the Defense Authorization bill that would transition the mission in Iraq. The proposal fell eight votes short of the 60 needed just to move to final consideration.

What took place on the senate floor last night was nothing more than a bit of theater staged by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). The reason for this was to force the Republicans out into the open, to force them to show their vote to continue the war in Iraq in a public display.

The measure, an amendment to the annual defense authorization bill (HR 1585), was a Democratic attempt to force President Bush to change course on the Iraq War. It would require that withdrawal of U.S. forces begin within 120 days and to complete the withdrawal of most units by April 30, 2008.

"Because Republicans continue to block votes on important amendments to the defense authorization bill, we can make no further progress on Iraq and this bill at this time," said Reid.

Now why does Harry Reid have to stage an all-night congressional pajama party just to force the Republicans to show their vote on the continuation the war in Iraq publicly? For a variety of reasons, but part of the reason that this took place is so that the public knows what's really going on the senate floor. All too often the obstructionist actions of the Republican senate are back-page news.

The Democrats are continually getting pounded by the overwhelmingly conservative coverage of the congress. The Democratic congress is repeatedly painted as weak and ineffectual, and are at times even blamed for things that are not their doing.

Even in the case of Reid's all-night debate, the press are blatantly stating falsehoods in an attempt to discredit Reid. The following is just one example:

"On the July 12 broadcast of ABC News' World News with Charles Gibson, ABC News senior national correspondent Jake Tapper aired a clip of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) attacking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and then asserted, 'Republicans on the Hill ... are looking for a new direction in Iraq, but say Democrats are not reaching out to them to forge a consensus for a responsible way forward' -- an assertion for which Tapper provided no support. In fact, Graham has argued in support of the current military strategy in Iraq..." Media Matters

But why would Reid pull such a stunt? Isn't this an unusual event in congress? No, actually it isn't. Things like this happen all of the time.

"It’s no big deal," said Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT). "I used to cause these."

So I am thinking that if Senate Majority Leader Reid went through all of the trouble to stage a congressional pajama party on the senate floor just so the media would be forced to show who was voting how on this measure, then maybe it is actually a good idea for us to actually look and see who is voting how. I mean, that was the whole idea, right? To show exactly who is obstructing the measure to end the war in Iraq.

Ack! Why is Reid one of the people that voted no on the cloture on the Levin amendment? It's because Reid wanted to make sure this bill would be brought up again. It's part of the rules. By voting no, he is now allowed to bring up the amendment for further consideration and another cloture vote at another time.

The Washington Post ran a great column by Harold Meyerson called "Spineless Sages: Top GOP Senators Only Talk Against the War".

The Gavel has the video of a one minute speech by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) that really encapsulates the White House position on Iraq. He states that "Failures of Iraq Have Nothing to Do With Message."

Crooks and Liars has a video of Senator Landrieu that is quite remarkable. After Katrina, I just kind of thought of her as a stooge, but I have new respect for her after I saw this video.

Stephen Colbert actually had the best coverage of all the news programs. He said that is an opportunity for Republicans to stand up for what they really believe in. Keeping us in Iraq no matter what! Crooks and Liars has the video.

Two people that should also heard on this matter are, of course, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

July 16, 2007 – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada led a news conference today to discuss Senate Democrats' efforts to change course in Iraq so that we may enhance America's security and more effectively fight terrorism. Senate Reid is leading the demand for an up-or-down vote on the Levin-Reed Amendment to the Defense Authorization bill, which would transition the mission toward counterterrorism and training, reduce the U.S. combat presence, and launch a comprehensive diplomatic effort in the region. "The American people deserve an open and honest debate on this war, and they deserve an up or down vote on this amendment to end it," said Senator Reid.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said:

Most Senate Republicans continue to obstruct Democratic efforts to force a new direction in Iraq, instead choosing to continue to stand squarely behind the failed policies of President Bush. By blocking an up-or-down vote on an amendment to responsibly end the war in Iraq, Senate Republicans have once again thwarted the will of a majority of the United States Senate, a majority of the House of Representatives, and a majority of the American people.

After four and a half years of a failed policy in Iraq, we must not just voice our opposition, we must vote to end the war. That is why the House passed legislation last week on a bipartisan basis to responsibly redeploy our forces from Iraq. We will repeat that judgment legislatively as often as necessary. Speaker Pelosi

In related news, last week the house has passed House Resolution 387, which is a combination of the following three bills:

H.R. 2237 - To Provide for the Redeployment of United States Armed Forces and Defense Contractors from Iraq

H.R. 2206 – U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007

H.R. 2207 – Agricultural Disaster Assistance and Western States Emergency Unfinished Business Appropriations Act, 2007

I don't remember any television news coverage of this bill. Do you? Sorry, I can't find a table with a better breakdown of the representatives, but this is how the voting went on that bill:

For a complete breakdown of what the Democratic congress is trying to do to end the war, follow this link: Congressional actions to end the Iraq War in the 110th Congress

And these are just some other related links:

Washington Post: Spineless Sages: Top GOP Senators Only Talk Against the War With Iraq Amendment Expected to Falter, Democrats Ponder Next Move
The Gavel: Candlelight Call to Action Reid: Republicans Must Allow Up-Or-Down Vote On Amendment To Change Course In Iraq
The Gavel: Rep. Johnson: "Failures of Iraq Have Nothing to Do With Message"
Crooks and Liars: Thank You Senator Landrieu
Crooks and Liars: Getting filibusters backwards
Think Progress: BREAKING: Reid To Force All-Night Filibuster On Iraq Withdrawal
Media Matters: On Good Morning America, Sawyer falsely claimed Reid "vows to filibuster"
Media Matters: NY Times suggests hypocrisy in Reid's entirely consistent actions
Media Matters: Media outlets avoid reporting that Senate GOP is blocking or "filibustering" Iraq amendment
Media Matters: Reporting on Reid exchange, ABC's Tapper suggested without evidence that Sen. Graham wants "a new direction in Iraq"

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At Thu Jul 19, 08:01:00 PM, Blogger Phydeaux Speaks said...

This is excellent, Dr. Z!

We need to make as much noise as possible, on order to get the word out on the obstructionists!

I especially appreciate the list of Yays ans Nays from the "pajama party" and the links at the end.

Keep it up!

At Thu Jul 19, 08:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is great information. Well done! As I was reading this, someone in the room was flipping through the channels and came to rest on Fox News. Wouldn't you know - Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham were deriding the all night debate as a "slumber party."

Your post does an excellent job pointing out the purpose behind Reid's decision to force the all night session and then his decision to pull the bill.

And thanks for explaining why Reid would vote against the bill. At first glance, it's very confusing.

At Fri Jul 20, 09:25:00 AM, Blogger Johnny Yen said...

Great post.

A lot of bloggers are blaming the Democrats for not doing anything about the war. Perhaps those people are unaware that Bush has made it clear that he'll veto anything the pass, and that it takes a 2/3's majority to override that veto. The Republicans, including their defacto party leader Bush need to be held accountable for every death there.

At Fri Jul 20, 01:06:00 PM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Sorry I took so long to get back to you guys...
Phydeaux Speaks: Thank you, sir! DCup has a new feature, "Your Daily Reminder That Democrats Are NOT the Problem," Which I think is one of the best things that i have seen in a long time. We need more ideas like this!

And you are right, damn the media, we do need to get the word out on the obstructionists!
DCup: Thank you for the post on your blog about this subject! I think that you said it better than I did.

I think that even a lot Democrats are hissing and booing Reid for what he did. Even Blue Gal gave Reid negative press on the subject. I think that Reid did the right thing. He sure did not have a lot of other options.

I had to look up the reason why Reid voted against the bill. It freaked me out too. The procedures in congress are pretty complicated. I sure don't understand a lot of them. No wonder people are confused.
Johnny Yen: You said:

"A lot of bloggers are blaming the Democrats for not doing anything about the war. Perhaps those people are unaware that Bush has made it clear that he'll veto anything the pass, and that it takes a 2/3's majority to override that veto. The Republicans, including their defacto party leader Bush need to be held accountable for every death there."

That is one of the best paragraphs that I have read in while. it is very succinct and well put, Johnny Yen. I am so gonna steal these words!

At Fri Jul 20, 01:59:00 PM, Blogger Johnny Yen said...

Thanks! Except correct my typo-- I meant to type "that he'll veto anything they pass."

At Fri Jul 20, 11:21:00 PM, Blogger Liberality said...

good post on a difficult subject. you put a lot of work into this and I for one apprieciate it very much.

At Sat Jul 21, 06:29:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Johnny Yen: I promise to make that correction before I plagiarize it.

Liberality: Thank you!


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