By Thomas Mitchell
The spotlight is on Nevada’s senior senator, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and it is casting some dark and ugly shadows.
Practically every news report out of Washington in the past few weeks has featured a snarling and snapping Harry Reid — sort of like the Reid who, when asked by a reporter about funding child cancer treatments during the government shutdown, snapped, “Why would we want to do that?” and then called her “irresponsible and reckless” for asking the question.
Fellow Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee has declared that the Senate is broken and its Reid’s fault. He said Reid’s unilateral killing of the filibuster for nominations ended the Senate. “While it ignores its own rules, today’s meek Senate watches as the Obama administration changes the health care law, suspends immigration laws, and rewrites labor laws,” he said.
Fellow Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said Reid has appointed himself to be a Rules Committee of one. He points out that the Democrats whining about Republicans abusing the filibuster is a diversion from Reid’s strongarm tactics that have emasculated the GOP minority. Using parliamentary procedures, Reid has cut off debate and prevented the minority from offering amendments 78 times — more than all other Senate majority leaders combined, ever. Reid has boasted, “The amendment days are over.”
Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel has flatly stated Washington is gridlocked solely because of Harry Reid.
“Here’s how the Senate ‘works’ these days,” Strassel explains. “Mr. Reid writes the legislation himself, thereby shutting Republicans out of the committee drafting. Then he outlaws amendments.
“So yes, there are filibusters. They have become the GOP’s only means of protesting Mr. Reid’s total control over what is meant to be a democratic body. It isn’t that the Senate can’t work; it’s that Sen. Reid won’t let it.”
Legislation simply goes to die in Reid’s Senate. No budgets have passed, no jobs bills, no immigration bills, no federal land bills, though several are pending. While the federal government holds title to 85 percent of the land in Nevada, the only thing Reid pushes is giving more land to the federal agencies that block development and economic benefits.
Reid has either ignored rural Nevada are acted to its detriment.
When a bill was introduced to allow Yerington to buy land at market price to create an industrial park near a copper mine, Reid demanded land be set aside for a wilderness area that local residents had already rejected. The bill is still pending.
To fend off the designation of sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act, Reid proposes a bill that would — you guessed it — create more wilderness areas. But when the residents of Humboldt County ask for the creation of a 26,000-acre Pine Forest Range Wilderness Area, the bill goes nowhere in Reid’s Senate.
While requests for mining permits languish for years in the federal bureaucracy, Reid says not a word. When oil and gas exploration leases are cut in half, Reid is silent. When the BLM proposes raising grazing fees by 74 percent, Reid raises no objections.
While Reid has boasted that he forced Congress to fully fund PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) payments to rural counties with large tracts of untaxed federal land, he’s never mentioned that Nevada gets a fraction of what other states receive.
For every dollar Nevadans send to Washington, we get back 65 cents. That’s the second worst return among the states, though we have the most powerful senator. For whom is he wielding this power?
The 74-year-old Reid says he is running for re-election in two years, though he was hospitalized for exhaustion recently after a routine week.
But for Reid to maintain his grip on power come next January, a majority of senators elected in November must be Democrats. We in Nevada are standing on the sidelines since neither Reid nor Sen. Dean Heller is on the ballot, but the outcome will greatly affect our state and the country. Thus, it is incumbent on all Nevadans to let their friends in other states know it is in all our best interests to return Reid to minority status. — TM