Chris Wilson: “To find out how united or divided both Republicans and Democrats are in the current senate, I started with a simple concept: For every member, I calculated which other senators voted the same way at least 75 percent of the time. In effect, this organizes the senate as a mini-Facebook of 100 users, in which any given pair of senators are friends if they meet this 75-percent threshold. When visualized, the picture looks like the final stages of cell division when a Paramecium reproduces, in which a formerly unified body has nearly split into two distinct creatures.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that “unless nominations start moving swiftly through the Senate, another round of dramatic rules changes may be in the offing,” Roll Call reports.
Said Reid: “All within the sound of my voice, including my Democratic senators and the Republican senators who I serve with, should understand that we as a body have the power on any given day to change the rules with a simple majority, and I will do that if necessary.”
Coming this month: The Centrist Manifesto by Charles Wheelan.
The author imagines a Centrist Party which attempts to win a few as four or five seats in the U.S. Senate, enough to deny either traditional party a majority. At that point, he says the Centrists would be the powerbrokers in DC. giving voice to those who fall in the ideological middle.
“Two maids allege that FBI agents from Miami tried to brow-beat them into
making incriminating statements against U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez,
during questioning about alleged sex parties at the Dominican Republic
resort home of a South Florida doctor who hosted Menendez numerous
times,” the Miami Herald
Salomon Melgen, the Florida political donor at the center of a criminal probe, told Bloomberg that he and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) are “like brothers” who spoke weekly, yet his companies never benefited and he broke no laws.
Said Melgen: “I don’t have any business interests at all that have been helped by any politicians.”
Tennessee state Sen. Frank Niceley (R) introduced a bill to give Tennessee lawmakers the power to select nominees to the U.S. Senate, the AP reports.
“Under the bill, primary elections would be replaced with caucus votes in the General Assembly… the measure is aimed at returning to a system more closely resembling the era before the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ended legislatures’ power to directly appoint senators in 1913.”
Charlie Cook: “You can hear bad ideas almost every day. But only occasionally do you hear a colossally bad, ill-conceived idea, one that leaves you wondering who dreamed it up.”
A new Quinnipiac University poll in New Jersey finds voters are divided on scandal-plagued Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) with 40% approving and 41% disapproving.
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) “is suddenly in high demand. His banishment is over, his rehabilitation almost complete,” the Washington Post reports.
“Several years after acknowledging his ‘very serious sin,’ he has successfully adopted a higher profile in the divided U. S. Senate… Now Vitter’s name is atop most lists of possible GOP gubernatorial nominees for Louisiana in 2015 when Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) reaches his term limit.”
“Over the past few weeks three different senators have put the nominations of three picks by President Obama — the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Interior Department and Labor Department — in jeopardy,” The Fix reports.
“In none of these instances… did the senators suggest the president’s nominees were unqualified… So the question is, why has it become so common for senators to throw up roadblocks in the confirmation process?”
“The answer: Because Washington has become so dysfunctional, threatening a high-profile nomination has become one of the best ways senators can now achieve their normal policy objectives.”
“That comment is indicative of some in Washington who’ve been too quick to surrender on every front. Texans, by our nature, do not quickly surrender. And I think that’s one of the reasons so many Texans are frustrated with politicians in Washington.”
— Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), in an interview with the Dallas Morning News, responding to Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) advice on the need to selectively pick your fights.
A reconstruction by the Boston Globe of the events leading up the defeat of an international treaty on disabilities “provides an inside look at how the Senate, once known as the ‘world’s greatest deliberative body,’ has become overwhelmed by partisanship — even on a seemingly uncontroversial measure aimed at helping some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”
“It demonstrates how outside groups and powerful constituencies exert outsized influence with arguments that are, in their best light, often tangential to the issue of the day.”
A top Dominican law enforcement official tells the Washington Post “that a local lawyer has reported being paid by someone claiming to work for the conservative Web site the Daily Caller to find prostitutes who would lie and say they had sex for money with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).”
The Daily Caller denied the allegations.
David Bernstein says Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) “has an independence and authority that frees her to be outspoken without getting alienated. She can embarrass the Barack Obama administration for failing to send bankers to jail without fear. She can also react with righteous outrage when I asked about Obama’s recent support of ‘chained Consumer Price Index (CPI),’ which liberals view as a cut to Social Security benefits. When I suggest that most brand-new senators would not undercut their own party’s president that way, she responds: ‘Better I should say this now, than wait to have anybody surprised about it later on.'”
“There’s a reason for her confidence: not only does Warren have tremendous credibility on the issues, she is simply too popular, with too broad and devoted a following, for anyone to threaten — up to and including the Obama administration. She is not a career politician, entangled by the favors and deals traded on her way up the ladder.”
Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) has lost the office suite his staff tried so hard to keep to Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), Roll Call reports.
“Heller’s staff had been using bullying tactics to prevent more senior member offices from viewing the space, which includes an unusually large personal office. Several complaints had been lodged with the Senate Rules and Administration Committee about the behavior of Heller staffers through the course of the months-long lottery process.”
Staffers for Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) “have been bullying other senators’ aides to protect the Nevada Republican’s space in the Russell Senate Office Building,” Roll Call reports.
“As part of the biennial Senate office lottery, junior members are obligated to show their office suites to more senior members, who then have 24 hours to decide whether to claim that space as their own. Heller’s office suite — which he inherited after the scandal-fueled resignation of Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) — may be particularly attractive to other senators because its floor plan includes a larger-than-average member office.”
“Though special courtesies are usually extended to aides and members visiting offices, Heller staffers repeatedly tried to keep them from seeing the spacious member office, sources reported, saying meetings were ongoing and could not be interrupted.”
After Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called him a “wacko bird“, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told Mike Huckabee, “You know, I think he’s just on the wrong side of history, and on the wrong side of this argument, really.”
He added that he respected McCain’s service and record, but that that experience didn’t mean his colleague was always right: “I treat Sen. McCain with respect. I don’t think I always get the same in return.”