Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Flood of Amendments Is Unleashed in the United States Senate

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Flood of Amendments Is Unleashed in the United States Senate

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON * The Senate debated on Wednesday 18 amendments to the Keystone XL Pipeline Bill, more than it considered on all bills debated in all of 2014.

It's a new day in the Senate under Republican control of "the world's most deliberative body."

Many of the Keystone amendments were offered by Democrats and have virtually no chance of passing. Republicans say their return to "regular order" will be far more tolerant to such amendments than what was allowed under former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D- Nevada, and that Wednesday proved their point.

Republicans, with Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., taking a lead, long complained that Reid stifled legislation to protect his fellow Democrats from unpopular votes and President Barack Obama from having to take stands on tough issues.

But Reid's deputy leader, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Wednesday's debate was possible only because, unlike the Republicans when they were in the minority last year, his party has decided to be the "constructive minority" and not gum up Senate procedural works with constant threats of filibusters and other delaying tactics.

No matter who gets the blame or credit, the early result is more wide-ranging debate on high-profile issues such as Keystone. Some of the amendments offered have been aimed more at making political points or getting fellow senators on record than on getting changes into law, but Blunt said that was not all bad.

Senators, he said, have a right to bring forth legislation they think is important and to try to persuade other senators to take a position on it. Until the past six years, he said, the Senate traditionally was "the place where national issues had an opportunity to be discussed."

Blunt will spearhead legislation that illustrates how divisions will continue to play out. Republicans will push a vote on House- passed legislation to cut off funding of Obama's controversial executive order easing deportation on millions of people who have illegally entered the country. …

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