Abuse of Power? Harry Reid's Game of Dodge Ball
WASHINGTON -- You'd think those in the nation's highest legislative body would want to be there so they could legislate. But little of that's been going on in the U.S. Senate these days.
Some here in Washington have talked about a "do-nothing Congress" -- and that could certainly be said of the Senate. Critics say the reason for that pretty much comes down to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Washington political observers like John Hart, editor-in-chief of Opportunity Lives, say the Nevada Democrat's near total clampdown on votes and amendments is historic.
"He's blocked senators from offering amendments more than all other majority leaders in our history times two," Hart told CBN News.
So why would the man who controls legislation want to stop the legislating? Hart says one reason is politics.
"He has used and abused that power to protect his own vulnerable incumbents from casting tough votes," Hart accused.
By limiting votes and amendments, Hart says Democrats can't be held accountable on the campaign trail for votes they never had to cast. He says there's hardly a crucial national issue Reid hasn't had the Senate dodge.
"Like the Keystone pipeline, tax reform, the size and scope of government, Obamacare -- on issue after issue, his primary goal has been to protect his own party members," Hart charged, describing it as, "Governing to win the next election above all else."
The Institute for Liberty's Andrew Langer points out Americans are often leery of Congress passing new laws, especially when it involves their tax dollars.
"They don't want the government to take any more of that money," Langer said. "So it's not a bad thing that it's not passing bills to reach its hands into their pockets and steal their money."
But he points out that Reid is not only blocking votes -- often on very important issues -- he's allowing votes on questionable measures, like a recent one that critics say would have restricted the free speech of political interest groups.
"So Republicans have passed bill after bill after bill that have simply languished because Harry Reid refuses to bring them to the floor, while he brings idiotic bills like the bill to go after free speech of groups," Langer said.
According to Hart, the mainstream media would have you believe the Republican majority in the House are just as bad at stifling legislation sponsored by Democrats. But he says the numbers in the Senate prove otherwise.
"Since July of 2013, there have been 14 votes on Republican amendments and hundreds and hundreds filed," Hart said of the Senate. "And in the House you have a Republican speaker who's allowed almost 200 votes on Democrat amendments."
Langer points out the Senate was set up to be the more deliberative body, and its own rules make passing legislation tough.
"The Senate has always been, depending on which side of the fence you sit on, the place where good bills go to die," he explained.
Both Langer and Hart say Reid's unprecedented throttling of votes and amendments steals almost all the power from the rest of the senators.
"The fact is, there are no Red State Democrats, only Reid State Democrats," Hart charged. "And he (Reid) is in fact the third senator from every state because he truly does have the power to decide what amendments are offered."
By blocking almost every senator on almost every issue, Hart says Reid takes away the basic right to representation.
"This isn't just about the rights of senators or Republicans," Hart continued. "This is about the rights and privileges of every single American citizen."
CBN News invited Sen. Reid's office to respond to this article, but received no reply.