A tip of the pen to Spencer Ackerman of Wired for uncovering Senator Harry Reid’s bald hypocrisy on the use of fear to push reformless reauthorization of the Patriot Act.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, May 25 2011, explaining why the Patriot Act must be reauthorized immediately without amendments or reform:
If the Senator from Kentucky refuses to relent, the government will be unable to fully pursue these leads. That would increase the risk of a retaliatory terrorist strike against the homeland, and hamper our ability to deal a truly fatal blow to al Qaeda.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, February 28 2006, explaining why Patriot Act reauthorization must not run roughshod over the need to offer amendments and make reforms:
I rise to explain why I will oppose cloture on the PATRIOT Act Amendments Act. In brief, I will vote against cloture to register my objection to the procedural maneuver under which Senators have been blocked from offering any amendments to this bill….
Of course even a good bill can be improved. That is why we have an amendment process in the Senate. The junior Senator from Wisconsin has tried to offer a small number of relevant amendments that I believe would make this bill even better. I am disappointed that he has been denied that opportunity by a procedural maneuver known as “filling the amendment tree.”
This is a very bad practice. It runs against the basic nature of the Senate. The hallmark of the Senate is free speech and open debate. Rule 22 establishes a process for cutting off debate and amendments, but Rule 22 should rarely be invoked before any amendments have been offered. There is no reason to truncate Senate debate on this important bill in this unusual fashion.
I will vote against cloture to register my objection to this flawed process.