Backbone: Senate Republicans Playing Hardball

Posted: Dec 01, 2010 11:56 AM
In a showing of unity and political courage, all 42 Republican Senators sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today pledging to filibuster every single bill in the lame duck session until action is taken to fund the federal government, and to prevent the largest tax increase in American history from taking effect:

Dear Leader Reid,

The nation’s unemployment level, stuck near 10 percent, is unacceptable to Americans.  Senate Republicans have been urging Congress to make private-sector job creation a priority all year.  President Obama in his first speech after the November election said “we owe” it to the American people to “focus on those issues that affect their jobs.”  He went on to say that Americans “want jobs to come back faster.”  Our constituents have repeatedly asked us to focus on creating an environment for private-sector job growth; it is time that our constituents’ priorities become the Senate’s priorities.

For that reason, we write to inform you that we will not agree to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to any legislative item until the Senate has acted to fund the government and we have prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers.  With little time left in this Congressional session, legislative scheduling should be focused on these critical priorities.  While there are other items that might ultimately be worthy of the Senate's attention, we cannot agree to prioritize any matters above the critical issues of funding the government and preventing a job-killing tax hike.

Reid must not be checking his mail regularly, because he's still pledging to move forward on the DREAM Act, a bill that would provide "backdoor amnesty" (as Sen. Scott Brown calls it) to certain young illegal immigrants:

The DREAM Act, sponsored by Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), would open up a channel for citizenship to immigrants who were illegally brought to the United States as children. To qualify for legalization, immigrants must have entered the U.S. before age 16, lived in the country at least five consecutive years before the bill’s enactment; been admitted to a college or earned a high-school diploma or GED certificate; and should have no serious criminal record.

In another potential strike against the DREAM Act, rumors are swirling that Senate Dems may be withholding its CBO scoring in order to mask a price tag of $20-30 Billion.

CBO scores and whip counts may be immaterial at this point.   Today's letter suggests that DREAM -- and all other Democrat-backed legislation -- is dead in the water until Republicans' top taxation and spending priorities are addressed.  Senate Republican sources insist the full caucus has linked arms and won't budge on this stand.

UPDATE:  Sen. Kyl offers a pointed reminder to Senate Democrats --  when we say we're going to block everything, we mean everything...including the new START treaty:

Washington — Sen. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.) tells NRO that if a tax-cut deal isn’t cut by early next week, there will not be enough time to deal with the START treaty in the lame-duck session.

Rich Lowry tweets, "That Kyl statement suggests that there IS a linkage between new START and taxes."

UPDATE II:  A GOP source emails that the Senate has gone into recess so Democrats can conduct a closed-door meeting on lame duck strategy.  (This is their fifth such strategy huddle).  Maybe the session isn't quite as neatly "rigged" as some people seem to think.