Friday, February 6, 2009

Update: Childen of the Senate Part II

Good afternoon. I wanted to update you on what's going on as the Senate wraps up work on the stimulus package. In two words, not much. Senators continue to offer amendment after amendment, and votes aren't taking even taking place. There have only been a few votes so far on the 15-20 amendments offered. Meanwhile, while there are unconfirmed reports of a bipartisan deal to cut spending in the bill by $100 billion, there has not been a formal amendment or substitute amendment offered.

The latest spectacle was an hour long shout-fest between Democrats. Senator Conrad of North Dakota offered an amendment with Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina that would have swapped out some spending for housing assistance. Conrad alternated shots with Democratic Senators Schumer and Dodd, who were adamantly opposed to the amendment. Now, Senators are debating an amendment by Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa. There is not even a time scheduled to take some votes. This all on a day when Senators have surely read dire job numbers.

I sort of feel like I have in the past when defending Barry Bonds. When you have stood up for an institution like the Senate, its need for comity and tradition, and its procedures, and then it can't get its act together to pass the most important bill in years, it's hard not to be disappointed. Sort of like how I (and the Big Picture, and many others) defended Barry Bonds against all allegations of steroid use.

I guess this is what happens when you have 100 egos, unlimited rules on debate and amendments, a general lack of empathy, and people who care more about "institutional integrity" than American vitality.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the United States Senate.

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