Just as House Democrats had imperiled the budget deal that passed that chamber Thursday night, a few conservative Republicans in the Senate also forced a long march on the bill. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, in an effort to fight President Obama’s executive action on immigration, used procedural maneuvering Friday evening to prevent colleagues from reaching even a basic agreement on voting on the spending bill.
“Regrettably, a small group of Senate Republicans has determined it is in their political interest to hold this legislation hostage,” Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, said as he opened Saturday’s session.
The maneuver by Mr. Cruz and Mr. Lee, however, not only wrecked their colleagues’ weekend schedules, but also may have backfired on Republicans. It enabled Mr. Reid to kick off votes on nearly two dozen nominations, pushing through more of Mr. Obama’s nominees, including several contentious ones, than Senate Democrats had originally hoped for — nominees who would have a far more difficult confirmation process when Republicans take control of the Senate in January.
“It will have the end result of causing nominees whom I think are not well qualified to be confirmed, so I don’t understand the approach that he is taking, and I think it’s very unfortunate and counterproductive,” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine.
On Saturday, senators began plowing their way through 40 procedural votes on 20 of the president’s nominations — a process, known as a vote-o-rama, that was expected to last well into the evening. Then, unless Senate leaders reach an agreement, members will vote early Sunday morning on a procedural measure that would allow them to vote on the spending bill as early as Monday morning.
With tempers already fraying just hours into the marathon session, Mr. Cruz’s colleagues were quick to lash out at him. “This is certainly a very poor way to end the year and will only confirm the public’s already low opinion of Congress,” Ms. Collins said.
Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, called Mr. Cruz’s strategy “a little worrying. When you force a weekend session like this, we ought to be accomplishing something, and I just don’t see what that is.”
The District will be prohibited from legalizing marijuana for the much of the coming year under a spending deal reached Tuesday between top Senate Democrats and House Republicans to fund the federal government through next September.
The development — upending voter-approved Initiative 71 — shocked elected D.C. leaders, advocates for marijuana legalization and civil liberties groups who earlier in the day had grown confident that the measure would be at least partially protected while Democrats still controlled the Senate.
However, with Republicans set to take control of the chamber in January, the defeat suggested that the will of D.C. voters — who approved marijuana legalization last month by a margin of more than 2 to 1 — may be suspended indefinitely.
“I can’t believe they did this,” D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said. “We don’t need to be locking these people up.”
“It’s totally disturbing; it’s entirely undemocratic,” said Adam Eidinger, who led the efforts to collect over 57,000 signatures this year to put the measure before D.C. voters.
A nearly two-year House probe into the 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans, including U.S. ambassador Christopher Stephens, counters many claims used by opponents of Obama administration to portray the incident as a White House failure.
It rejects assertions that the CIA was secretly shipping arms to Syria from Benghazi, that the CIA had ordered potential rescuers to stand down, and that the government bullied people into not testifying or speaking about the Benghazi attacks.
The House Intelligence Committee's findings do not place blame on the administration for failing during the attacks. However, they do assert that the State Department knew that it could not defend the Benghazi consulate from an “armed assault.”
The report also faults the Obama administration for using a “flawed” process to generate much-criticized talking points for administration officials and lawmakers in the aftermath of the attacks. Ambassador Susan Rice received significant scrutiny for asserting that the violence was inspired by a protest over an anti-Muslim video. The administration later said the attack was the result of a terrorist plot.
The whole reason Democrats allowed a vote on this in the first place was to try and save Mary Landrieu's seat by proving that she could "get things done" in the Senate. This was a stupid idea in the first place, because she likely has no chance in the runoff election regardless, so it was basically giving away a major issue for nothing, and it looks like a worse idea now because, apparently, she can't actually get things done in the Senate.