Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., blocked action on immigration amendments late Wednesday after fuming that the Senate's troublemakers were getting votes on their amendments while hers were stalled.
"I want to lead, but it's getting very difficult in this place to do any leadership," Landrieu said. "So, I'm just going to sit here until maybe somebody that is a leader around here can come talk to us about what we're going to do ...
"How many amendments of the are noncontroversial, that Republicans and Democrats will agree to, that is my question. I would like an answer," Landrieu asked. "And my second question is, when could we possibly vote on those amendments before cloture is called?"
Landrieu's question came as a Senate aide told CQ Roll Call that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was considering filing cloture as soon as Thursday to cut off debate.
Before the end of the final roll call vote in today's sequence of votes, which actually came on confirming President Barack Obama's choice of Michael Froman to be U.S. trade representative, Landrieu could be seen on the floor in a heated conversation with Judiciary ranking member Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, and some floor staff, presumably about a proposed way forward on the next batch of amendments following votes on five amendments.
This is by no means the first time Landrieu has launched a procedural objection on the floor. This time, she said she planned to spend the next couple hours hoping to get some resolution.
This objection stems from a way the Senate has operated in recent years, under which some senators, primarily on the minority side, have proved to be adept at securing floor votes on extraneous or contentious amendments to various bills.
"I've also been here long enough to realize that the leadership is trying its best, and there's some amendments that are very controversial. I am not leader of the Senate, fine. But what I'm talking about is, when we get on a major bill like this, and members work hard to build support and to get bipartisan support, our amendments that are noncontroversial should go first," Landrieu said. "But, that's not what happens around here. What happens around here is the guys that cause all the trouble all the time on every bill ... I don't want to name their names because it's not appropriate, but there's a group on the other side and few maybe on our side. They're never really happy with anything, and so they file tons of amendments and we spend all of our time worrying about their amendments, and those of us that spend a lot of our time building bipartisan support, that offer amendments that have no opposition, actually never get to those amendments."
"This is really sad, and I've basically had enough," said Landrieu. "I've come every day and said, 'you know, are any of these amendments going to get in the queue?' But, that's not the way we're working right now. We're taking the worst amendments, the most controversial amendments. The guys that cause trouble on every single bill, and we give them votes on their amendments. Some of them have been defeated 99-1 ... and they everybody says, 'we're tired, we're aggravated, we're calling cloture.'"
Landrieu then noted that once cloture is invoked, amendments that are not pending and germane fall by the wayside, including amendments that are not particularly controversial.
In the lengthy floor speech that seemed to be delivered off the cuff, the Louisiana Democrat said that the procedural antics had made the Senate look much more like a theater than a legislature, and that if she wanted to be involved in that business, she would live in New York.
Humberto Sanchez contributed to this report.