As Rick Rice noted Friday, “Dingy Harry” Reid, Senator (D-Soddom) and Senate Majority Leader invoked the Nuclear Option (changing Senate rules on a simple majority vote) to avoid having an up/down vote on the Jobs bill (as proposed by the SCoaMF resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue) without any of the various amendments that the Senate Democrats have been talking up to make that bitter pill more palatable. No one expected that the measure as submitted would receive more than a handful of votes, and “Dingy Harry” did not want the SCoaMF to be embarrassed when that expected outcome came to pass.
The problem with this is that the Senate runs on unanimous consent.
Every bill when introduced on the floor, returned from committee, amended, and called for a floor vote must, per the rules of the Senate, be read. The Senate routinely avoids this duty by gaining “unanimous consent” to skip the reading from the Majority and Minority leaders. While any Senator could, in theory, object and thus cause either the bill to be read or force a vote with 60 aye votes required to continue, party discipline prevents that.
Dingy Harry just kicked that stool of party unity from under the minority leader. Having lost the ability to introduce amendments or force votes via their party leader, the members have no incentive to maintain party unity on unanimous consent.
I expect much complaint from Democrats as the wind they have sown becomes a whirlwind preventing any action in the Senate, and when it is later invoked against them when they are returned to the status of the Minority party in the Senate.