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More Irony, Oh Delicious Irony

Fans of irony, gather ‘round. For years Mitch McConnell railed at Harry Reid for his use of a parliamentary gimmick that allows the leader of the Senate to control which amendments get attached to which bills. Reid was, from the outset, in a constant battle with conservative Republicans to keep destructive tackons from undermining legitimate legislation and became a master of this move.

Those of us who are poker players know just how effective (and damaging) these inappropriate amendments can be. The infamous UIGEA that effectively shut down online poker in the US was the result of just one of these that snuck by. It got “glued” to the Safe Port bill that absolutely had to be passed — and at the very last moment before the Senate adjourned. Retrospective analysis discovered that only three (or perhaps four) senators even realized the rider was attached or understood that it would have the impact on online poker that it did. Their focus was on passing a bill designed to strength surveillance and defense of vulnerable ports and, of course, getting out of town. Online poker never even crossed anyone’s mind, except the DRB’s who slipped it in.

From the moment Reid took over, he was constantly on the watch for similar sneaky moves, and they showed up all the time, most frequently in the form of amendments to bills on education or transportation that would repeal Obamacare or weaken Social Security or strip away oversight of the EPA or the FDA. In fact, until he was replaced by McConnell after the 2014 elections he had used his power to snip off unwelcome amendments some 85 times, a record. McConnell never let him forget it and publicly assailed him every time he did it.

So what’s happened since McConnell took over as Majority Leader? Glad you asked. He’s actually been using the same legislative gambit at a rate higher than Reid and (and here’s the really amusing part) doing so because the same obstreperous right-wing nutballs that drove Reid to distraction are doing it to McConnell. The fact that he’s “their boy” has had no impact. In fact, recently the smartest crazy person in the Senate, Ted Cruz, publicly called McConnell “a liar” because he had presumably told Cruz that he wouldn’t let a particular bill come up for a vote without one of Cruz’s bizarro amendments attached and then did so.

The reason why the Senate doesn’t function is becoming ever clearer. It’s not a simple partisan issue with Republicans in a pitched battle with Democrats, which had been the common wisdom. It’s that the wackadoodle wing of the GOP is against everyone else and that includes their own party’s leadership.

I guess we need a new meaning for the acronym RINO.

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