U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding an effort by the Democratic Majority to alter the rules of the Senate, further marginalizing the minority party in the Senate and the constituents they represent:
"Over the last few weeks we have been discussing the plan by the Democratic Leadership to break the rules of the Senate in order to change the rules of the Senate--in other words, the nuclear option.
"This plan would break their very clear commitment--which was given at the end of 2006 when they were still serving in the minority--to respect the rights of the minority. It would break their promise to follow the Golden Rule. And it would break their pledge to never--ever--use the nuclear option to break Senate rules.
"They have governed in a much different way, however. And their actions yesterday on the pending bill related to the Transaction Account Guarantee Program illustrate well their heavy-handed, my-way-or-the-highway, manner of running the Senate.
"Now, Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly to get on the bill. We soon found out, however, that no good deed goes unpunished.
"Less than a minute after agreeing to adopt the motion to proceed to the bill, the Democratic Majority filled the amendment tree to prevent any Senator, Republican or Democrat, from offering any amendments.
"Republicans have significant, on-point amendments we would like to offer. For example: Senator Corker has an amendment that requires the FDIC to charge the full premium necessary to cover the cost of this insurance. Senator Vitter has a similar amendment. Senator Corker also has an amendment that would make participation in the TAG program voluntary so banks don't have to pay premiums for insurance they don't use. And Senator Wicker has an amendment that would limit the term and exposure of the extension of the TAG program.
"Other Members, on both sides of the aisle, have additional amendments that are relevant to this bill. No senators, however, Republican or Democrat, will get to offer any of these amendments because of the autocratic manner in which the Democratic Majority is handling this legislation--which is the same way they have handled bills nearly 70 times.
"Within two minutes after blocking out all amendments, the Democratic Leadership filed cloture on the bill itself so our friends could end debate on this legislation before it even began. This procedural hardball, like blocking out all amendments by filling the amendment tree, is all too common.
"This is the 107th time that the Democratic Majority has moved to cut off debate on a matter--be it a bill, an amendment, or a conference report--on the very same day that the Senate began considering the matter. And, to boot, this is a bill that never went through committee. Like so many other bills the Senate has considered under the Democratic Majority, it was written behind closed doors. This has happened nearly 70 times as well.
"In short, what happened on this bill is a prime example of the Democratic Leadership's "hat trick': bypass the committee process to write a bill behind closed doors; prevent anyone--Republican or Democrat--from representing their constituents by offering amendments; and then move to end debate on a bill--again, a bill that never went through committee and no one is allowed to amend--on the very same day the Senate takes up the bill.
"The Democratic Leadership no doubt likes running the Senate this way because it gives them near-total control. Or, as they prefer to describe it, this approach is "efficient'--which, now that they're no longer in the minority, is what they believe the Senate should aspire to be.
"One can describe this heavy-handed approach in a lot of ways. But you can't say it comports with their promise to respect minority rights. You can't say it is an example of the Golden Rule. And you can't say it resembles anything like how the Senate used to be run; how the Senate is supposed to be run; and how our Democratic colleagues promised they would run it.
"The heavy-handed way the Democratic Majority is handling this bill is a prime example of the fact that we don't have a rules problem around here; we have an attitude problem around here.
"And I call on my Democratic colleagues--especially those who are not in their Leadership and who have the experience and wisdom that comes from having served in the minority--to work with us to get the Senate back to how it's supposed to function.
"And I urge them not to be complicit in irreparably changing the Senate as an institution that respects the rights of the minority, and the views of the constituents whom the minority represents."