The U.S. Senate has been debating controversial legislation authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline recently. And, unlike when Democrats ran the chamber, the minority party has been allowed to bring amendments to the floor for a vote. In fact, no fewer than 24 amendments to the bill were considered – most of them introduced by Democrats – before Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cut off debate.
“We have already had more roll call votes on this bill than the entire Senate had on every bill through the whole year of 2014,” McConnell said. “I think it is time that we start moving forward.”
But Democrats were upset that they didn’t get to keep the debate going forever and ever, which is sort of hypocritical given that when they ran the Senate the minority party didn’t get to offer up amendments at all.
“To enable this vote on the Keystone pipeline to finally happen, we need to be able to debate and vote on amendments,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, a chief Democratic champion of the Keystone project. “I was disappointed that open debate was hindered.”
Let’s turn back the clock a bit shall we?
During Heitkamp’s first year in office, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided to change the Senate rules and gut the filibuster which, as we all know, is rule which assists the minority party with that whole “open debate” thing Heitkamp claims to be concerned about. Reid was doing this in addition to never, ever letting the minority party bring any amendments to bills to the floor.
Among the votes for Reid’s rule-change?
Again, Heitkamp styles herself as this bi-partisan moderate. This maverick who is less concerned with partisan politics than getting things done and stuff. But when Heitkamp’s political party was in the majority she voted to marginalize the minority party in the Senate.
Now that her party is in the minority, suddenly she’s concerned about “open debate.”
Hypocritical? You betcha.