Guy Benson


Leadership is often about prioritizing, and paramount among Harry Reid's priorities is firing off daily broadsides against two private citizens whose political donations run afoul of his sensibilities. While he's assailing the "un-American" Koch brothers for everything from abetting Vladimir Putin to causing global warming, he's also busy explaining why he doesn't despise other right-leaning billionaire donors. Rich people who engage in the political process for the "right reasons," as determined by Reid of course, should be left alone. Others -- who supposedly get involved in politics for personal gain (about which Harry knows a thing or two) -- must be publicly slandered at every opportunity. Among the hallowed class is Reid's buddy Tom Steyer, a liberal environmentalist billionaire who's pledged to raise $100 million in support of Democrats this year. Steyer is a staunch opponent of the Keystone pipeline, as are many of his fellow travelers on the ideological fringe. That he appears to have financial interests in blocking the job-creating, environmentally-secure pipeline is irrelevant. Gramps has judged Steyer's heart to be in the right place, so his money is deemed clean and green. The Obama administration has repeatedly sided with the vocal minority on Keystone, rejecting and delaying its approval at every turn. After yet another State Department study determined the project would have negligible environmental impact, the White House punted a decision until after the election -- much to the chagrin of vulnerable Democrats, anxious to bring home a "win." Frustrated Senate Republicans and a number of Democrats are trying to force a binding vote on the issue, but Harry Reid has Obama and Steyer's back:


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., used a parliamentary maneuver to block a bid by pipeline supporters to include the pipeline measure in an energy efficiency bill moving forward in the Senate. Republicans also were seeking an amendment to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from imposing new greenhouse gas regulations on coal-burning power plants. Reid's actions came after Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell objected to Reid's offer to call an up-or-down vote on the energy bill, with a promise for a separate vote on Keystone later. The partisan wrangling threatened to doom prospects for both the energy efficiency bill and the pipeline measure, which would authorize immediate construction of the proposed pipeline from Canada to the United States. Supporters say the measure is needed to end years of delay by the Obama administration on whether to approve the project...All 45 Senate Republicans and as many as a dozen Democrats support a bill that would force a decision on the project....Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who has pushed for Keystone approval as a key part of her re-election campaign, expressed frustration that the Senate appeared likely to miss opportunities for both the energy efficiency bill and the pipeline measure.


That would be the same Mary Landrieu who recently bragged to the New York Times that she'd helped forge a filibuster-proof majority in favor of the pipeline. She evidently lacks the sway within her own party to force a vote on the issue. Reid's obstructionist procedural maneuver took place yesterday. Today, he reiterated his opposition to the Keystone project and continued to play parliamentary games designed to prevent an open and fair legislative process. Reid is joined in opposition by a majority of his caucus, including a number of Senators who are beholden to Tom Steyer's big money -- including Mark Udall of Colorado, where the pipeline is immensely popular. Reid says he'll only permit a vote on Keystone if he can shut down the amendment process on another bill:



During his tenure, Reid has blocked all amendments -- a move known as "filling the amendment tree" -- far more often than the last six majority leaders combined. His level of vote-blocking obstructionism is unprecedented. When the GOP retaliates, Reid labels them the true obstructionists, and uses the dysfunction he's created as a pretext for additional power grabs. The Keystone pipeline would create thousands of American jobs, improve our relations with our Canadian allies, and help streamline North American energy production. It is environmentally sound -- it's safer and would produce fewer emissions, in fact, than alternative modes of transporting fuel. It is overwhelmingly supported by the American public. By continually throwing up barriers to a decision with broad bipartisan consensus, Harry Reid is placing the special interests of major Democratic donors ahead of what's best for the country, then screaming about the rotten Kochs to distract from his own transparent "dark money" quid pro quo.


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography