Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Freshman Republican senators go guerilla

(From left) Rand Paul, Kelly Ayotte and Marco Rubio give a press conference. | AP Photo
Rand Paul, Kelly Ayotte and Marco Rubio threatened a July 4 recess revolt. | AP Photo Close

Six months into their first term, a band of Republican freshmen are fed up with the tortoise pace of the Senate and have resorted to guerrilla warfare to take on the establishment — and it’s causing headaches for leaders of both parties.

Sen. Ron Johnson, who unseated Democratic Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold last November, mounted a protest last week against Democrats’ failure to produce a budget — an effort that culminated Tuesday when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was forced to yank a bipartisan Libya resolution from the floor.

Sen. Rand Paul, the Kentucky firebrand and tea-party favorite, warned this weekend he would filibuster in an attempt to pry open closed-door debt ceiling negotiations.
And a key reason that the Senate is in session during what should be the chamber’s Fourth of July recess? Freshman GOP senators, including Johnson, Paul, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Marco Rubio of Florida, threatened a recess revolt that would force both parties to take an embarrassing vote to skip town.
Last week, Johnson didn’t bother giving his GOP colleagues a heads up before he stormed onto the Senate floor and warned that he would block all Senate business until Democrats started debating the budget.
He made good on his word Thursday night, objecting to Reid’s request to move directly to a vote on a resolution by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Aiz.) that would authorize limited U.S. military operations in Libya. And he issued new threats in a TV interview Tuesday morning even as fellow GOP senators were whipping a cloture vote on the Libya measure.
Johnson hasn’t been the only one stirring the pot. In a C-SPAN interview over the weekend, Paul, a co-founder of the Senate Tea Party Caucus, said he would mount a filibuster until the chamber began addressing the nation’s debt crisis. He cheered Reid’s decision to scrap the Libya vote.
“Last week a group of us said, ‘No more.’ We do not want to discuss anything else until we start discussing solutions for the debt, solutions for the looming debt crisis. We said, ‘No more,’” Paul said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “Today, we will win and draw attention back to the debt ceiling. We’re not going to talk about anything until we resolve this.”

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