No Dramatic Showdown in Senate as Live Quorum Fizzles

Posted September 27, 2010 at 9:22pm

The Senate wrapped up debate on legislation aimed at curtailing the outsourcing of jobs overseas late Monday night with none of the drama expected when Majority Leader Harry Reid announced the fight last week.

The Nevada Democrat had used a live quorum to compel most of Congress’ 100 Senators to come to the chamber floor earlier in the evening, a move designed to create a real debate between the two parties on the legislation.

Reid had hoped for a dramatic showdown between Democrats and Republicans that would provide a stark contrast between the two parties in the lead-up to the midterm Congressional elections.

It initially appeared that lawmakers would participate in an actual debate. Republicans offered a series of unanimous consent agreements to pass a variety of bills, including a sales tax measure and legislation dealing with the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate change regulations. Democrats strenuously objected, offering alternatives that were similarly shot down by the GOP.

But despite some early fireworks, the debate quickly devolved into the familiar series of speeches by solitary lawmakers to an empty chamber.

As expected, both sides stuck to their scripts, with Republicans attacking Democrats’ economic and tax policies, while Democrats sought to portray the GOP as defending the wealthy at the expense of middle-class Americans.

With virtually the entire Senate having abandoned the chamber — most Members appeared to leave the Capitol shortly after arriving for the live quorum — the evening was wrapped up by 10 p.m., an hour earlier than had been predicted.