Senate GOP Accuses Parliamentarian of Bias

Posted December 16, 2009 at 5:52pm

Senate Republicans on Wednesday accused the Parliamentarian of bias in favor of Democrats after a controversial ruling allowed the majority to circumvent the GOP’s efforts to force a lengthy reading of an amendment.Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin on Wednesday ruled that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) could withdraw his single-payer insurance amendment to the health care bill even though Senate rules appear to prohibit such a move while the amendment is being read. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) forced the reading of the bill, a process that was expected to take up to 12 hours.Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) accused Democrats of “somehow convinc[ing] the Parliamentarian to break with the long-standing precedent and practice of the Senate in the reading of the bill— and charged Democrats would go to any length to push through the reform package.“It’s now clear the majority is willing to do anything to jam through a 2,000-page bill before the American people or any of us has had a chance to read it — including changing the rules in the middle of the game,— McConnell said.Other Republicans laid the blame squarely at Frumin’s feet. “I think the Parliamentarian was clearly biased in doing this,— Senate Republican Steering Committee Chairman Jim DeMint (S.C.) said following Frumin’s ruling. The Parliamentarian’s office did not return a call for comment.But Democrats contend the decision was valid, pointing to a 1992 decision to allow a lawmaker to withdraw an amendment they say essentially created a new precedent.“They are upset because they were thwarted in their latest stunt to derail health reform. 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,— Reid spokesman Jim Manley said.