Grassley says Reid’s strategy to block amendments now threatens committee debate Senator Chuck Grassley said the partisan gridlock driven by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s tactics to block amendments on the Senate floor spread to the committee level ....
BigNews.Biz - Jul 21,2012 - Grassley says Reid’s strategy to block amendments now threatens committee debate
WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley said the partisan gridlock driven by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s tactics to block amendments on the Senate floor spread to the committee level with made-up germaneness rules and tabling motions forced on national security amendments, some of which had received bipartisan support from members of the Judiciary Committee.
“In the Judiciary Committee, we have a longstanding practice of voting up or down on difficult and controversial issues,” Grassley said. “What happened today undermined the responsibility of this committee to debate and address important issues, in this case national security. The Judiciary Committee is the forum for these debates. The bill that was on the agenda today is one of the few vehicles that will likely be passed before the end of the year. So it was an important and appropriate vehicle for addressing such issues, once the chairman opened up the amendment process by adopting his own substitute amendment.”
Grassley, the Ranking Member of the Committee, said the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the Senate majority leadership wants to protect its members at every step of the legislative process from having to vote against important national security initiatives, and the majority leadership will employ any procedure it can to duck debates and governance, just like has been seen on the Senate floor on many pressing issues under Reid’s leadership.
For example, Grassley today offered an amendment in the Judiciary Committee to include the death penalty for terrorist attacks involving weapons of mass destruction, including atomic weapons, biologic weapons and missiles targeting passenger aircraft. His amendment previously passed the Judiciary Committee unanimously during last year’s reauthorization of expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act. The amendment was tabled without an up-or-down vote.
The majority also used tabling motions to block efforts led by Senators John Cornyn and Grassley to hold the Department of Justice and the Obama administration accountable for the targeted killing of United States citizens abroad. The Cornyn amendment would have required the Department of Justice to release any legal analysis authorizing the targeted killing of American citizens abroad. Both Chairman Patrick Leahy and Grassley have sent letters to the Attorney General requesting any such documents. To date, Grassley has not received the documents requested.
“We’ve got a Department of Justice and a President exercising authority to kill Americans, and Congress doesn’t even have the administration’s legal justification for doing so? The people, through their elected representatives, have a right to know whether due process is being honored. Maybe the justification is there, but in our system, the executive branch should be accountable for its actions,” Grassley said.
Grassley said the committee majority started tabling amendments after Senator Jon Kyl forced a vote on his amendment that would criminalize rewards made to suicide bombers and those who commit terrorist attacks if the reward was given with the intent to encourage terrorism. The Kyl amendment failed, but prompted the strategy