In theory, the Nevada Democrat could use the new rules to bring up almost any piece of legislation, as long as he allowed Republicans to offer at least two amendments of their choosing. But in practice, political pressures may make him think twice before employing that tactic.
One senior GOP aide expressed doubt that Reid would regularly use the new power to sidestep filibusters on motions to proceed. After all, he would be giving the GOP the power to have a roll call vote on any topic, and Republicans have not been shy about pushing amendments they know put vulnerable Democratic incumbents in a difficult spot.
Of course, the new maneuver could also set up a quandary for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. He would control the right to offer the Republican amendments, and the 45 members of his conference would undoubtedly be interested in getting their chance to address their issues.
For instance, McConnellís colleague from Kentucky, fellow Republican Rand Paul, frequently seeks to offer floor amendments that face overwhelming defeat and are not popular even among the majority of Senate Republicans. If McConnell, rather than Reid, is perceived as blocking Paulís amendments, it could cause trouble for him back home as he seeks a sixth term in 2014.
Steven S. Smith, a Senate procedural scholar at Washington University in St. Louis, called the overall package ďa very modest change.Ē He noted that the agreement eliminated a draft provision from Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John McCain, R-Ariz., that would have given committee chairmen and ranking members more power to pick floor amendments under the process.
ďThis may be a bow to unhappy Steering Committee types who may not have liked the previous draft that gave formal leadership control of the amendments,Ē Smith said. ďThere will be some confusion about how those amendment opportunities will be allocated within each party.Ē
Following the speeches from elected officials, the crowd stands at long tables as they dig into BBQ, brunswick stew, cadillac rice at the Law Enforcement Cookout at Wayne Dasher's pond house in Glennville, Ga., on Thursday, April 17, 2014.