Posted on October 7, 2011The Senate majority leader moved last night to cut off republican amendments to a Chinese currency bill, calling the amendments dilatory. In doing so, he changed Senate rules and caused a firestorm in the halls of the world's greatest debating society (or so it thinks of itself).
I was in the Senate press gallery as this kerfluffle was unfolding, drinking beer at a going away party for Carl Hulse, the New York Times reporter who is moving off the hill beat and up the management chain at the old gray lady.
Had I been a Senate staffer, I probably would have really cared about this break in precedent, but I am now a civilian, and like most Americans, I now look upon the Senate as a vast wasteland of wasted opportunity, which leads me not to anger, but to ennui.
The upper body, as some call it, has put the fun in dysfunction. Well, not really. There is nothing fun about it. It hasn't passed a budget in two years, it hasn't passed an appropriations bill all year, it won't pass a jobs bill that will actually create jobs, and right now, it doesn't look good for any progress on the Super Committee, which was created precisely because the Senate is so completely dysfunctional.
The bill they are now considering, should it become law, would exacerbate tensions with our nation's largest creditor, and likely lead to a trade war, which is exactly what we need to make our economy really tank. Beyond that,it is really smart policy (he said with a smirk).
Congressional observers wonder why the American people hold the Congress in such low regard, but it is really not much of a mystery. When the Senate does anything, it usually does the wrong thing.
At one point in time, I thought it would be for the best if the Congress, through its Super Committee, produce a big, bold plan to fundamentally reform entitlements and the tax code. Now I think the country would be better off it the Congress passes a ten year continuing resolution and take the next decade off.
The Senate has become one big boiling mass of dilatory motions. As a former House guy, I think it is really kind of sad.