Harry does another Washington show-and-tell about how to win friends and influence people and properly represent your constituents. This one is titled: It’s only wrong when someone else does it.
“Of course, nobody can see the managers’ amendment. It is composed of over 40 amendments. How could anyone vote for a piece of legislation such as that — a managers’ amendment with 42 separate amendments?
“Now, these amendments were not put in in a conference committee. People complain about that. But at least in a conference committee, you have people working together, sticking things in. Sometimes Democrats complain and sometimes Republicans complain — whoever is in the minority here. Well, we didn’t get enough consultation; you cut us out of the process. But at least you had a group of Democrats and Republicans in the process. Here, you have one person making a decision as to what is going to be in the managers’ amendment. There is no way to know what is in it. How could anyone say: ‘OK’? You have taken care of me, but I don’t want to see the other 40 amendments — -because with this legislation, similar to all legislation, you put something in one spot, and you have to take something out someplace else.”
(Senator Harry Reid, 2/9/06)
But now, as a Senate vote on health-care legislation nears, those negotiations are occurring in a setting that is anything but revolutionary in Washington: Three senators are working on the bill behind closed doors.
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) sits at the head of a wooden table at his office as he and Sens. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) work to merge two competing versions of health-care legislation into one bill. The three men will be joined by top aides as well as by members of President Obama’s health-care team, led by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
…after weeks of Senate Finance Committee public hearings, the Senate negotiations are now an invitation-only affair in Reid’s office. The majority leader is unlikely to expand his group, even as some senators unhappy with parts of the legislation, such as John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), have asked to be in the room.
“Neither I nor any other senator has the luxury of passing a perfect bill — I wish we could — that conforms exactly to his or her beliefs. But we must act.”
And again in December 2009:
Sen. Dick Durbin’s job as majority whip is to count votes, but don’t ask him for the current tally on the health care bill.
“I don’t know,” Durbin said earlier this week. “Sen. Reid is the one who has been keeping it pretty close.”
Early on in the process — when Reid was still trying to reconcile bills moving through two different Senate committees — Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked him about the progress he was making.
Reid pointed both of his index fingers to his head and said: “I got it all figured out how we’re going to do this.” And then he walked away.