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Reid Goes Nuclear

October 7, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

All week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell [R, KY] have been in a procedural battle over the American Jobs Act. McConnell has been trying to force a vote on the bill in the form of an amendment to the China currency bill that is currently before the Senate in order to show that the Democrats don't even have their own caucus in order on it. Reid says he's willing to vote on the jobs bill, but not in the form of an amendment. He offered to move from the China currency bill to the jobs bill so the Senate can have a full debate and he can offer amendments to help shore up the Democrats. McConnell rejected the offer.

On Thursday afternoon it appeared that McConnell was going to win, sort of. He was planning to force a vote on a motion to suspend the Senate rules that require amendments to be germane and move to his amendment (i.e. the jobs bill). It wouldn't be a vote on the jobs bill, but it would be a vote on voting on the jobs bill, and in his mind that would be enough for justify good talking points.The Senate Parliamentarian determined that McConnell's move was legit and ruled it in order. That's when Reid pulled out the "nuclear option":

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House Republicans have now lost three straight attempts to pass bills in the past 24 hours.

As you've probably heard already, last night the Republican leadership was caught off guard when 26 of their rank-an-file members joined the Democrats to reject an attempt to extend the PATRIOT Act provisions under an expedited procedure, known as "suspension of the rules," that limits debate and does not allow amendments to be offered. Before that vote, the leadership was forced to pull another bill from the floor that would have provided job training to people who have lost their jobs due to trade issues when it became clear that they didn't have the votes to pass it under the same procedure they tried for the PATRIOT Act bill.

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