Senate passive on votes, setting up for 2012 vote

Senate passive on votes, setting up for 2012 vote


If you are a watcher of federal lawmakers, you may have noticed that the United States Senate has been slow to vote on and move bills through the legislation process.  While the House of Representative members duke it out over the budget bills, appropriations measures, and other controversial legislation, the members of the Senate have been coasting.  They have made not any controversial votes four months into the session.  Politico reported that by early May, the Senate had only held 70 roll-call votes, the lowest level through this point in the year since 1997, and all were noncontroversial nominations.

Could it be by design?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is playing it safe, securing the 23 seats up for reelection next year by not putting any contentious bills up for vote.  However, when it matters politically, there is movement  Last week, the Senate saved the fate of Medicare by voting down the controversial Rep. Paul Ryan budget bill which would have turned Medicare into a voucher system.

The Senate has been able to stay under the radar. Traditionally, that chamber of Congress is perceived as being more prestigious — its members serve 6 year terms to the House’s 2. Besides that, it is known for being more stately and for  avoiding on-the-floor bickering and public jostling over issues, as the House members frequently do.

“It’s less [productive] than I’ve ever seen,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has been in the Senate since 1987, told POLITICO. “We literally are doing nothing — except confirming judges.”

It seems the stars are moving into alignment for the next legislative session already, with Democrats readying a play too retake the House.  If Democrats are going to be able to pass any of the controversial legislation, such as  comprehensive immigration reform, or undo some of the GOP gains while it was in power in the House, the  Senate will need to retain its fragile majority.

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Jeneba Jalloh Ghatt represents small, women, and minority owned business and technology companies at The Ghatt Law Group LLC, the nations’ first communications law firm owned by women and minorities. She's won landmark cases on behalf of her clients which include national civil rights and public interest organizations. In addition to actively authoring several blogs, being a radio show host and sitting on the boards of three non-profits, she is a tech junkie who has been developing online web content since the very early years of the Internet, 1991 to be precise! Follow her on Twitter at @Jenebaspeaks, on her blog, Jenebaspeaks, which covers the intersection of politics and technology or on her Politics of Raising Children blog at The Washington Times Communities section. The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and have complete editorial independence from any Politic365 partners, sponsors, or advertisers. For additional information about Politic365, please visit