Following cloture, on Thursday, October 6, the US senate was poised to cast a pro forma vote on final passage of a China currency bill when Senate Republicans attempted to use the rules of the Senate to attach a post-cloture amendment. The Republican amendment would have required a vote on President Obama's jobs bill, forcing Democrats to vote on the plan the president has been insisting Congress pass and blaming Republicans for blocking it. Because there are insufficient votes among Senate Democrats to force closure or pass the bill, allowing the amendment would have blown up the charade that congressional Republicans are the lone roadblock to Obama's jobs bill.
Senate Majority Leader Reid recognized the potential for embarrassment, objected to the affirmative ruling on the amendment and forced a vote along party lines, 51-48, to overrule the parliamentarian's decision to allow it. Reid's move effectively eliminates the minority's ability to offer amendments. Reid triggered a sort of "mini-nuclear option," casting aside Senate history and precedent to change Senate rules simply to avoid a vote on a jobs plan his Democratic president has been demanding from Congress.
The odds of GOP takeover of the Senate in 2012 are getting progressively stronger. The Reid move establishes a dangerous precedent for the minority party. Angry Senate Republicans won't soon forget it. The repeal of Obamacare in January, 2013, may have just shifted from "possibility" to "likelihood," thanks to a senior Senator who changed the rules simply to avoid embarrassment. Harry's problems may be just beginning.