Senators who broke the system should fix it

Call Harry Reid a stranglehold of one.

Senate Democrats in a supposed effort to end partisan gridlock — with strong support from New Mexico’s own Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich — pushed through a change in Senate rules, the so-called nuclear option, that stopped filibusters for most presidential nominations by allowing a simple majority vote.

But current Senate gridlock is seen by some as the work of one man: Senate Majority Leader Reid, who has adopted a policy of limiting amendments senators can offer to legislation, effectively cutting off GOP participation.

Over the past six months, Reid has allowed votes on just four Republican amendments, according to The New York Times. Bills stuck in limbo because of the tactic addressed issues such as unemployment, immigration, military rape, Iran sanctions and the tax on medical devices.

GOP critics say he is doing this to shield fellow Democrats from politically painful votes on President Obama’s initiatives. Some, like Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, have said it has been the reason they have voted no on issues important to them such as unemployment.

Reid says he’s merely protecting legislation from GOP attempts to gut it, instead of improve it.

It’s an election year, and candidates are seeking cover on controversial issues. But there is a reason Americans send people to Congress — to ultimately vote on the merits of proposed legislation. At least that was the argument advanced by Udall, Heinrich and others in seeking to change filibuster rules.

Shouldn’t the same senators who broke what they said was one partisan logjam now turn their attention to stopping the inaction caused by this strong-arm tactic?

— Albuquerque Journal