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Parliamentarian Stokes Republican Ire

That would appear to contradict the chamber’s rules. According to “Riddick’s Rules of Procedure,” “an amendment shall be read by the Clerk before it is up for consideration or before the same shall be debated unless a request to waive the reading is granted ... the reading of which may not be dispensed with except by unanimous consent, and if the request is denied the amendment must be read and further interruptions are not in order. ... When an amendment is offered the regular order is its reading, and unanimous consent is required to call off the reading.”

Democrats contend that the 1992 withdrawal essentially created a new precedent and that Republican anger is simply frustration about having their efforts at obstruction blocked.

“They are upset because they were thwarted in their latest stunt to derail health reform,” Reid spokesman Jim Manley said in an e-mail. “The rules of the Senate are clear. Any Senator can withdraw his amendment prior to the yeas and nays being requested. That is what happened in this case. It’s parliamentary rules 101. Nothing biased or changed about that.”

Republicans, however, called that reading of the record disingenuous at best.

In 1992, the “chair made a mistake and allowed something similar to happen. But one mistake does not a precedent make,” McConnell said. “For example, there is precedent for a Senator being beaten with a cane here in the Senate. If mistakes were the rule, the caning of Senators would be in order. Fortunately for all of us, it is not.”

Earlier in the day, Democrats were using the fact that they could not stop the reading to make the case that the GOP’s efforts were resulting in the delay of a critical Defense Department spending bill. They later checked with the Parliamentarian and realized there was a way around it.

The complaints against Frumin and Senate Democrats are the latest example of an increasingly bitter climate in the chamber. For instance, earlier this month, Republicans accused Reid of attempting to rig the floor schedule to accommodate his fundraising trips when he tried to cancel a Saturday vote that would have conflicted with an event in New Orleans. Reid eventually canceled his trip and accused Republicans of attempting to embarrass him.

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) said he hopes Wednesday’s events don’t cast a permanent shadow on the chamber. “Hopefully everybody’s going to be a grown-up about it and understand that proponents have a job and opponents have a job to do,” Cornyn said.

But others were not so sure.

“If there was any good faith, it’s gone. ... No one can say this is a fair process when they basically have a Parliamentarian in their pocket,” DeMint added.

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