McConnell Statement On Senate Procedure

Jillian Bandes
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Posted: Dec 16, 2009 6:44 PM
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate clerks allowing Bernie Sanders (Vt.) to interrupt the reading of the bill, as Republicans had requested.
The plain language of the Senate precedent, the manual that governs Senate procedure, is that unanimous consent of all members was required before the Senator from Vermont could withdraw his amendment while it was being read.

Earlier today, the majority somehow convinced the parliamentarian to break with the long standing precedent and practice of the Senate in the reading of the bill.

Senate procedure states clearly, and I quote: "under Rule 15, paragraph 1, and Senate precedents, an amendment shall be read by the clerk before it is up for consideration or before the same shall be debated unless a request to waive the reading is granted."

It goes on to state that, quote, "the reading of which may not be dispensed with, except by unanimous consent, and if the request is denied, the amendment must be read and further interruptions are not in order."

You may have heard that the majority cites an example in 1992 where the chair made a mistake and allowed something similar to happen.  But one mistake does not a precedent make.

For example, there is precedent for a Senator being beaten with a cane here in the Senate. If mistakes were the rule, the caning of Senators would be in order. Fortunately for all of us, it is not.

It’s now clear the majority is willing to do anything to jam through a 2000-page bill before the American people or any of us has had a chance to read it—including changing the rules in the middle of the game.