The agreement Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid (NV) thought he had reached with Republican leader Mitch McConnell (KY), died a slow, angry and ugly death Thursday.
When this new Senate held its first session in January, younger and more progressive Democratic members of the Senate wanted Harry Reid to take advantage of having a Democratic majority.
They urged him to make changes in the senate's archaic rules while he had a Democratic majority vote. That action may only be taken at the start of a new congress.
Reid loves the senate and he loves its traditions. He refused to take advantage of his majority. Instead he trusted Mitch McConnell to keep his Republican minority caucus in line without any real rule changes.
Don't they trade horses in Reid's Nevada? Doesn't Harry know that if a horse trader offers you a "too good to be true deal on a mare," look closely at the animal's past history and then study her teeth?
Harry Reid was snookered (tricked, fooled) by Mitch McConnell, who promised him a good deal on a mare in a deal that was a "too good to be true" way to run the senate -- the old way.
Reid was also snookered by John McCain (AZ) and Lindsay Graham (SC), (above) two veteran members of the senate who claim all they want is "more information" on what happened at Benghazi before they would allow an up or down vote on the confirmation of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary.
That is Republican-speak that has nothing to do with Benghazi and everything to do with their awareness that Hagel does not meet their "I love Israel" taste test.
A snookered Reid was so angry about what was obviously a move to a filibuster by the Republicans, that he called for an up or down cloture ("closure") vote on whether or not to end debate on Hagel's confirmation.
The Republicans knew he would lose that vote. They politely suggested a delay in the vote until February 26, giving them more time to find something, anything, that would disqualify Hagel as defense secretary. They have been looking since December and they have always come up empty-handed.
Hagel is backed by virtually everyone but Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Republican party "I love Israel" senators.
Reid is not only a lousy horse trader, he also failed the test of a savvy legislative leader: Know your vote total before you call for cloture.
Under those archaic senate rules Reid refused to change back in January when he had his chance to do so, a cloture vote needs a 60-vote majority to close debate and make way for an up or down simple majority vote on a nomination like Hagel.
Reid started with 55 affirmative Democratic votes. Even conservative Democratic senators in danger of neoconservative primary opponents, stuck with Reid. After that, Reid needed five more senators to win the cloture vote and end debate.
The Democrats picked up four Republican votes in favor of cloture, Senators Mike Johanns (NE), Susan Collins (ME), Thad Cochran (MS) and Lisa Murkowski (AK). Republican Senator Orrin Hatch (UT) voted present. Hatch's support would have put the vote at a winning total of 60.
The final vote on cloture was 58 for and 40 against. Reid reversed his vote to against, in order to be able to call for the vote again after the senate returns February 25 or 26, a motion only an against voter may make.
When Reid spoke on the senate floor Thursday afternoon, he expressed frustration over the tactics of the obstructionists -- led by Senators James Inhofe (OK), John McCain (AZ) and Lindsay Graham (SC) -- which forced the cloture vote that Reid lost.
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