GOP senator: Reid has ‘locked this place down’

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) on Tuesday accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) of implementing a “radical form of control” over the Senate amendment process.

“Why can’t we debate in this body in a meaningful way ... because we are restricted in this Senate on what we can actually vote on,” Fischer said on the Senate floor. “It’s a radical form of control and I’m tired of it.” 

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Fischer’s complaints came as lawmakers are deciding whether to proceed with a bill that would temporarily extend unemployment insurance.

Most Republicans don’t like the bill because it isn’t paid for with spending offsets. They are expected to offer amendments paying for the bill; earlier Tuesday, Reid said he was open to finding offsets.

Several Republicans have criticized Reid for not allowing amendment votes.

“The majority leader has locked this place down,” Fischer said. “It is shameful.”

But Reid has said Republican obstruction is the cause for a lack of progress on several legislative fronts. The 113th Congress has been deemed the least productive in U.S. history.

Fischer said the only obstruction in the Senate is the “broken, non-existent amendment process.”

Republicans have been forcing Democrats to run out the procedural clock on most votes ever since Senate filibuster rules were changed. 

In November, Senate Democrats unilaterally voted to change the rules to allow some executive branch and judicial nominations to advance with a simple-majority vote rather than with 60 votes. Reid said the rule change was needed to overcome Republican delays and obstruction.